Mike Stevens | Oct 19, 2010

Organisers of this weekend's inaugural Korean Grand Prix have scattered cement dust in places around the new Yeongam layout. The newly-laid asphalt surface continues to seep oil as it cures.

But Karun Chandhok - the only man to have completed a lap of the 5.62km layout in a Formula One car - insists the circuit will be safe enough to host the race.

"I don't think for one second that it will be disastrous," the Indian driver told the Telegraph. "A lot of the rumours have been inaccurate."

In its official event preview, the Italian team Toro Rosso also urged the F1 world not to "panic" as it makes the long trek from Europe to the Jeollanam-do province.

There are concerns about the incomplete track facilities, food, hotels, access roads, organised crime in the local area and the proximity to the rogue North Korea.

"Our advice to you is don't panic and make the most of the experience," said the team.

But Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi is hoping the experience is not just enjoyed by F1.

"The key question will be if the people know enough about formula one to want to attend the race," said the Swiss.

One piece of good news from the nearby port city Mokpo, about 400 kilometres south of the capital Seoul, is that three days of mostly dry weather is being forecast.

But the sport's travelling circus is still bracing for a difficult event. Williams team manager Dickie Stanford has told his troops to be ready for a seven-hour bus ride from the capital to Yeongam.

"From a driver's perspective the most important thing is that the tarmac lasts," Sauber's Nick Heidfeld said.

Nico Rosberg also said he hopes "the asphalt holds up", and reigning world champion Jenson Button admitted he expects "a few unexpected issues" in Korea.

But 2010 points leader Mark Webber is sanguine.

"We all have to go there, see the track and get on with the job -- it's the same for everyone," he said.

(GMM)

 

F1 Bosses Consider Two-Day Weekend

After Sunday's condensed action in Japan, the idea of reducing a Grand Prix weekend to just two days is back on the agenda.

It is believed the proposal is once again being discussed by team bosses, after Sebastian Vettel earned pole position just hours before winning the Suzuka race.

Qualifying in Japan had to be rescheduled due to Saturday's torrential rain, highlighting the sport's ability to cope with all its practice and qualifying sessions without needing a full three-day schedule as at present.

"From the team's perspective it is quite intense, a lot of adrenaline, a lot of pressure," said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali when asked whether a two-day schedule makes more sense for today's F1.

"And then if you have a problem with the car or a crash, then it is very difficult to make sure that you are able to start the race.

"(But) it would be interesting how you (the media) and the public will think about it," he added.

Red Bull's Christian Horner also commented on the concept of a two-day weekend.

"I think the format worked well in two days (in Japan) because of the bad weather," he is quoted by France's L'Equipe. "What we could possibly do is condense what happens on a Friday.

"Personally, I would prefer to keep qualifying on a Saturday and the racing on Sunday, but there are certainly things we could do with Friday.

"One example would be with the young drivers. (And) everybody arriving at the circuit on a Wednesday makes no sense.

"We need to discuss it with the FIA and FOM," Horner said.

(GMM)

 

Korea's Hyundai 'Not Interested' in F1: Report

The likelihood of Hyundai entering formula one in the near future has diminished.

Some years ago, the Korean carmaker - currently the fifth largest in the world and comprising Kia - was linked with Minardi when Paul Stoddart was selling the Faenza based team.

And "We are in discussions with Bernie Ecclestone," an official of the Seoul-based company said in 2006.

Another Korean multinational, Samsung, has also been linked with F1 sponsorship, which now seems timely given the sport's journey this week to the southwest Jeollanam-do province for the country's inaugural grand prix.

South Korea's economy proved robust in the wake of the global financial crisis, and Hyundai vice chairman Chung Eui-sun said recently that the marque's "utmost priority is to boost brand image in Europe".

The conglomerate LG is already a prominent F1 sponsor, but Hyundai is reportedly not interested.

"The grand prix could be a gateway to becoming a premium car brand, but Hyundai is simply not interested in formula one," an anonymous F1 industry official told the Reuters news agency.

"It also requires long-term investment of several years at least and it's doubtful whether Hyundai has that patience," the source added.

(GMM)

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