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Korea taking things to the limit

Korea will not have its final track inspection until late September, just a month before the inaugural Korean G1 Grand Prix is scheduled to take place over October 22-24.

Circuit designer Herman Tilke admitted at Spa that it was touch and go whether the track would be ready on time, with asphalt only just starting to be laid late last week, amid speculation that certain well-connected F1 backers were already cancelling their hotel rooms.

The FIA rules governing new events stipulate that final track inspections 'should' be completed 90 days before the scheduled event date, although the governing body says this is discretionary rather than mandatory.

Another F1 'rule' is that if a venue does not meet the deadline for readiness, it is not only subject to any financial penalty that may be in its contract with Formula One Management, but also loses its slot on the following year's calendar.

A Red Bull is scheduled to be given a demonstration run on the new circuit this weekend and it remains to be seen whether the track surface is sufficiently advanced for that to go ahead.

Stories doing the rounds in Belgium suggested that there would not be sufficient time for cooking facilities to be installed in hospitality suites, lending a whole new meaning to teams taking everything including the kitchen sink.

One man who did not seem too perturbed about the race taking place was Spa runner-up Mark Webber, who denied he had spent the summer break contemplating his championship chances.

"I haven't because it's too far away," Webber said. Asked his feelings on Korea happening, he added prior to the Spa race, "Obviously if there's 30 races to go I'm nowhere near, but six races remaining favours me more than seven." Lewis Hamilton, who re-took the championship lead by three points at Spa, would no doubt share similar sentiments.