Bernie Ecclestone is confident that the inaugural Korean Grand Prix will go ahead in two weekends' time, despite the country's new circuit having yet to pass an official FIA inspection.
Having sounded doubtful about the race taking place when interviewed at the Singapore Grand Prix two Sundays ago, Ecclestone admits that he has been surprised - and impressed - by the apparent turn around in conditions at Korea International Circuit, which should now be ready to pass race director Charlie Whiting's checks on Monday
"I will be there, the world will be watching and we will have a great race - it is on, end of story," Ecclestone told Britain's Daily Express
newspaper, "They had problems, but they have done wonders in the last few weeks. I've been in touch, I've seen photographs and the top layer of the track has been laid. They will pass the inspection."
Both teams and drivers have said that they will be happy to race in Korea should KIC pass its biggest test this week, despite suggestions just a week ago that the final layer of tarmac, some kerb and other facilities had yet to be completed. Even Ecclestone, normally bullish about new events, sounded reluctant to confirm the race until now, with a possible cancellation looking set to throw the championship battle into confusion with one fewer round for those chasing Mark Webber to take advantage of.
Even before Ecclestone's positive outlook, however, team bosses confirmed that plans were in place to ship their equipment from this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix direct to Korea, even though the logistics could be rendered worthless by Whiting.
"Of course, by the time [the FIA] get there, we will have shipped our cars and our equipment to Korea, so it is pretty late," McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh admitted to Reuters
, "but I think we've got to respect the fact that there has been a lot of money spent and a lot of effort [put in]. I'm sure that the Korean nation will ensure that there is a grand prix.
"It's worrying that [a decision] is this late, of course, but it's the same for everyone and we are planning to be there. We want there to be four more grands prix to decide this championship."