Mike Stevens | Jun 17, 2010

Organisers of the inaugural Korean Grand Prix, scheduled to be held in October, have played down renewed fears the event might be called off.

F1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone recently checked on construction progress of the Yeongam circuit and dismissed rumours it will not be finished on time.

But political tensions between South Korea and the rogue North have since ramped up, after the South blamed the North for the sinking of a naval vessel and the North retaliated by threatening all-out war.

"If there is (war), we won't be there obviously," Ecclestone told reporters in Turkey.

The latest development on Wednesday was a news conference given by the North Korean ambassador to the UN, threatening military action if the UN condemns the sinking.

"Our people and army will smash our aggressors with merciless counter reaction if they dare to provoke us despite our repeated demands and warnings," said ambassador Sin Son Ho.

Sources recently indicated that the tension is slowing down construction of the 5.62 kilometre track, while teams are currently reluctant to charter equipment to Korea or book airline seats or hotel rooms.

But in a media statement, the race promoter Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) dismissed the speculation.

"We are extremely pleased with the progress of the circuit, facilities, and preparations for the grand prix," said chief executive Yung Cho Chung.

"Construction is on schedule for completion this summer, and we have encountered no obstacles whatsoever, either logistical or political," he added.

(GMM)

 

New Massa Contract Has 'Barrichello Clause': Report

According to the latest rumour, Felipe Massa may have agreed to a 'Barrichello-clause' in the pages of his new Ferrari contract.

As the 29-year-old arrived in Turkey mid last week, the Italian team said Massa will keep racing a Ferrari in 2011 and 2012, contrary to speculation that Mark Webber or Robert Kubica might replace him.

But so far in 2010, Massa has struggled to match the pace of his new Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso, including in Turkey, where he was outqualified before driving a messy race and crossing the line a lap down.

The latest edition of the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell reports rumours that one of the conditions of Massa's contract renewal was that he agree to be the number two driver.

'Barrichello clause' is a reference to Michael Schumacher's former Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello, who famously raced to support the championship charges of the team's favoured driver.

Massa is quoted as responding to the rumours as "rubbish", while Alonso refused to comment.

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