FIA ‘may break rules’ over inaugural Korean Grand Prix
Formula 1’s governing body could break its own rules to accommodate this year’s inaugural Korean Grand Prix as it admits “a lot of work remains to be completed”.
Speculation over whether the circuit would be completed in time has raged since the race was included on the calendar, with teams and broadcasters only making logistic arrangements in recent months.
However, the FIA says it is “satisfied” with the progress being made after personnel recently visited the track, despite recent reports suggesting the venue is only 90 per cent complete just weeks before F1 is due to arrive.
An FIA spokesman said: “The FIA has been receiving weekly updates from its inspector in Korea and the construction company with regard to the track and its safety installations.
“The FIA is satisfied with the progress even though a lot of work remains to be completed. A final track inspection by the FIA Safety Delegate will take place on Sept 21.”
The Daily Telegraph had pointed out that Appendix O of the International Sporting Code states that “for permanent circuits, the final inspection should be made not later than 60 days (or 90 days for FIA Formula One World Championship events) before the first international event to be held, at which inspection of all work relating to the track surface, permanent features and safety installations should be completed to the FIA’s satisfaction”.
As the KIC is part permanent, part temporary, the final inspection for the race on 24 October 24 should to have taken place by 26 July.
The KIC is due to host a ramp-up event this weekend to open the circuit ahead of the F1 extravaganza, with Hispania Racing’s Karun Chandhok signed up to drive a lap of the 120,000 capacity circuit in Red Bull’s show car as Red Bull’s regular drivers are unavailable, but it is still unclear whether the track is ready after recent photographs showed the surface to be incomplete, with surroundings still looking like a construction site.
F1 race director Charlie Whiting will inspect the track on 21 September, just 30 days before the race weekend begins, to give the final go-ahead.
The regulations state that any venue which cancels a race within three months of the scheduled date without a good reason will not be considered for the following season’s calendar, and should the race not go ahead, it is expected that the multi-million pound fee will still have to be paid.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was rumoured to be courting potential alternative venues in Europe should the circuit not be ready in order to avoid an embarrassing unexpected four-week break as the season reaches its climax, but he has yet to find a suitable arrangement.