Korean GP Future in Doubt for 2014

Ben Snowball@@BenSnowballContributor IOctober 2, 2013

YEONGAM-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 14:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren drives during the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit on October 14, 2012 in Yeongam-gun, South Korea.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

The future of the Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix is in doubt with its promoter declaring the country’s chances of remaining on the calendar for 2014 as “fifty-fifty.” James Galloway of Sky Sports reported the news.

Race officials are working on improving their current contract and have not ruled out the possibility of staging a night race provided the financial terms are agreeable, promoter Won-Hwa Park said, per Galloway’s report:

We want to improve the current contract with Formula One Management.

We are still negotiating with Mr Ecclestone. We wish to have a satisfactory conclusion with Mr Ecclestone.

We'd be glad to consider to hold it as a night race with certainly better conditions from Mr Ecclestone. This circuit is far from downtown so we do not have any noise problem.

This year’s Korean GP takes place from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 but has struggled to attract large crowds with Yeongam, where the Korea International Circuit is based, a three-hour train away from the capital Seoul.

Korea was provisionally included on the initial 22-race calendar for next season, but last season's race struggled for appeal. It failed to provide any real excitement, despite Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel wrapping up his third consecutive world title, with just 34 overtaking manoeuvres in the entire race—second fewest only to the typical procession that is the Monaco Grand Prix.

The stunning Marina Bay Street Circuit highlights the appeal of a night race to fans, with the Singapore street race as much about the scenery as the action on the trackespecially when this season's races have been heavily hampered by the constant degradation of the Pirelli tyres.

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Vettel is once again closing in on the world title after moving 60 points clear of closest rival Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. With just six races remaining it seems only technical failures from the normally reliable Red Bull team will stop the championship heading back to Germany once more.

SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 20: Sergio Perez of Mexico and McLaren prepares to drive during practice for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 20, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

McLaren driver Sergio Perez's pre-race comments, per the official Formula One website, suggest the drivers may set up their cars to benefit from the early overtaking opportunities at detriment to the rest of the windy circuit: 

The aim is also to have a car that works well in the principal overtaking areas - into Turns One and Three - which means making a little bit of a compromise to the set-up.

That’s particularly important because it’s very difficult to overtake once you get into the twisty section, as there’s really only a single racing line.

The Korean Grand Prix is a very tough race - it might not have that reputation, but, make no mistake, to do well here is always extremely rewarding.

If the drivers can put on a show then it might convince the Korean promoters to push for its Formula One future, but it's always a concern if the fans aren't overly enthused by a race in their own country.