Bernie Ecclestone has re-affirmed his conviction that the world of F1 will be 'pleasantly surprised' when it touches down in Korea for the inaugural Korean Grand Prix next weekend, as D-Day arrives for the track's critical final inspection.
The construction of the Korea International Circuit – situated in Yeongam County, around 250 miles south-west of the capital of Seoul – has been beset by problems and delays, to such an extent that many have surmised there is no way the race on 24 October can feasibly take place.
Two days ago, the sport's commercial rights-holder Ecclestone had insisted that 'it is on, end of story' [see here
] – but all remains subject to the track successfully passing a final two-day inspection due to be carried out by FIA chief technical delegate Charlie Whiting today and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday), less than a fortnight before the grand prix. An official announcement is expected on Wednesday.
The stipulated final inspection date of no less than 90 days prior to the race taking place was postponed due to neither the circuit nor its facilities being sufficiently ready, with the final track layer being laid down only last week, several months behind schedule after being hampered by persistent bad weather.
Thus far, only Red Bull Racing has taken to the Korea International Circuit, with currently out-of-work Hispania Racing ace Karun Chandhok behind the wheel of one of the energy drinks-backed outfit's demo cars at a promotional event last month.
Ultra-experienced Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) chairman Rubens Barrichello has stated that he is confident the sport's governing body will make the right decision regarding whether or not the race is safe to go ahead, whilst Ecclestone is adamant that 'despite all the doom stories, I think people will be pleasantly surprised'.
Should the track be judged insufficiently ready, however, Korea would stand to lose the race for both this season and next by way of punishment as per the FIA regulations, whilst it may also have a significant impact on the F1 2010 title fight, with only two grands prix remaining afterwards, in Brazil on 7 November and Abu Dhabi the following weekend.