SEOUL, (Reuters) - Formula One race officials have given the go ahead for the inaugural South Korean Grand Prix later this month, organisers said on Tuesday after concerns the circuit was not up to standard.
The track in Yeongam about four hours’ drive from Seoul has passed final inspections by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) race director, the Korean organisers Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVA) said.
The South Korean race is scheduled for Oct. 24, but there had been questions about whether the circuit would be ready in time, with delays pushing back the inspections which had been initially scheduled for last month.
Cancellation would have had a major impact on the world championship outcome, with five drivers vying for the title with just three races to go.
Australian Mark Webber of the Red Bull team increased his lead to 14 points after finishing second in Japan at the weekend to teammate Sebastian Vettel.
FIA race director Charlie Whiting’s go ahead came after his inspections of the newly paved circuit on Monday, erasing fears of cancellation of the inaugural Korean race, with the final layer of asphalt laid only last week.
Whiting has notified the organisers that he would be issuing an official license for the track, after the on-site inspections to check whether construction had met engineering requirements, KAVO said in a statement.
No teams are expecting perfect conditions but they will be hoping the track does not throw up too many problems at a time when consistency is crucial.
South Korea’s auto makers hope the grand prix will help raise the country’s image as a high-end maker, having emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing car export markets.
Cancellation would have dealt a major blow to South Korea’s plan to raise its profile as a tourism destination by investing heavily in global events such as the grand prix and next month’s G20 summit, as well as a bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.