After months of suspense and plenty of "will they, won’t they" discussion, the FIA is poised to confirm that the 2010 Korean Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled on the weekend of October 22-24.
Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s Formula One race director and safety delegate, has given the track his blessing, labeling the track as satisfactory—hardly a glowing endorsement.
Of course, he wasn’t given much choice after F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone declared last week that the race would go ahead.
Ecclestone is reported to have said, “I will be there, the world will be watching and we will have a great race—it is on, end of story.” There wasn’t really a lot of wriggle room for Charlie, and so the licence will be issued to the Korean Automobile Racing Association.
Again, however, we see the FIA tear up its own rule book. Their articles mandate that the track should be certified no less than 90 days before the race. They have only just managed to do it 10 days before the race.
Ecclestone has even managed to contradict himself, as recently as two weeks ago stating that it would be dangerous to give the green light to a circuit this close to race day—not that anyone would be willing to point this hypocrisy out to him.
The track has only just received its top coat of bitumen; there has been no racing and no real test of the systems around the track. Running a Formula One grand prix as a test doesn’t sound like a particularly sensible approach. Cancelling a grand prix would be an expensive proposition, so it’s easy to see what the real motivating factor is.
While the track itself is ready, there is still uncertainty surrounding the facilities for the teams and media as well as for fans.
On top of everything else, the Korean circuit—built on reclaimed swamp land near Yeongam—is yet another Hermann Tilke-designed track, meaning that approximately half of the F1 championship tracks now bear the stain of his fingerprints.
They are attractive layouts and look like they would be tons of fun to drive on, but just don’t expect to see much in the way of overtaking. It makes you wonder why they would bother adding another circuit.
Then again, perhaps we focus too much on F1 being a sport—we need to remember that it’s a business. The sport is a sideline issue. That’s why the bloke who runs the business outranks the one who runs the sport and why we’ll see racing in Korea—ready or not.