Bernie Ecclestone insists that he was never really concerned by the threat of the Korean Grand Prix not taking place, and praised the organisers for the circuit that he found when he touched down in Yeongam.
Ecclestone, notorious for putting pressure on venues via comments made to the media, claims that he had had assurances that the Korea International Circuit would be ready to roll for this weekend's inaugural grand prix, even though the traditional 90-day inspection had to be postponed and FIA race director Charlie Whiting only gave the green light for the race to go ahead the day after the preceding round in Japan less than two weeks ago.
"I wasn't worried because I had some information from upstairs that they would get it done - and they've got it done," Ecclestone told Reuters
, having surveyed the latest venue to join the F1 circus, "It would have been bad for Korea if it didn't happen, so they have made sure it happened."
Even though work was still going on around the circuit, and areas away from the track itself still resembled a construction site, Ecclestone admitted that he was impressed with what he had found - even finding time to have a dig at some of the more antiquated venues still on the schedule.
"Considering what it was, and what they've had to do - and it's not been easy to do this event - I think they've done a good job," the 79-year old said, "It's all there [and], if there hadn't have been all the bad weather, then it would have been done a long time ago. I get really upset because, when you look at these facilities, and you look at some of the places we go to and have been in the past, you can see what it took to build F1 to what it is today."
Despite seats still being fitted to some grandstands, race organisers insisted that a crowd of around 100,000 was expected on Sunday.
"On Sunday, we will hopefully fill it up, but I think we have 100,000 people," Chung Yung-cho, chief executive of Korea Auto Valley Operations and chairman of the Korea Automobile Racing Association, claimed, acknowledging room for more than that total, "I've heard that we had sold about 90,000 so far [for Sunday], and about 50-60,000 on Saturday. We have not issued any standing tickets yet, as we want to sell out the seats first."