Charlie Whiting’s back in the office. What he saw was a finished circuit. So please stop bothering me, make your travel arrangements, buy your tickets and I’ll see you all in a week’s time.
Oh and one other thing: I said the circuit‘s finished. Paddock too, by the way. And some grandstands. Great stuff, job well done. But don’t expect anything else.
Charlie tells me the Koreans tried to pretend the only thing that still needs to be done is ‘some landscaping’. Forget it. There is no landscape. The place is sitting in the middle of a giant construction site. The lunatics’re building a bloody city in the middle of the circuit, and all around it.
So don’t stare yourself blind on the scene from the F1 2010 video game in the top picture. A computer monitor is the only place where you’ll see the circuit in its proper shape for some time to come. The real deal’s a building pit, and it will remain that for the next two years at least. Bring your boots.
There. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’d sent him off to Kimchi or whatever it’s called, incognito, ahead of the official inspection. He went there straight after Singapore. Took him a day and a half to find his way back home.
How did it go, I asked him. Did the Inspector Frogleg outfit work? “Like a charm,” he said. “Nobody recognised me. One person asked me if I was Mr Bean. They all seem to love Mr Bean over there.” Well, that would explain the construction delays, then. So you could find out how they’re doing without being noticed?
“Oh no,” he says. “I said they didn’t recognise me. But they did notice me. Of course they did. How could they not? I stuck out like a sore thumb. Literally. This is some backwater deep in South Korea, you know. I was the only Westerner for hundreds of miles around.”
“But I did find out how they’re doing. Continue reading
Koreans are deadline junkies. The circuit’ll probably be ready just in time, and the grandstands will be empty. But now the lads are getting restless too. Complain that they have to book their tickets while still being uncertain if there will be a race.
That’s your typical team boss: operating on a hundred million annual budget and getting all worked up over a 50 quid cancellation fee.
Of course it doesn’t help that the deadline junkies have managed to stall the final inspection all the way to October 11th. So I’ve told Charlie Whiting, our in-house sleuth, to travel straight from Singapore to Yeongam and have a look-see. Incognito.
Charlie’s not used to cloak and dagger stuff, and he’s quite excited about it. I’ve started calling him Inspector Clouseau, which is French for frog leg, and he’s bought a little hat and a raincoat with a big collar.
Let’s hope he brings good news. I’ll keep you posted.
… Or actually, visited for the first time. By my good friend Karun Chandhok, who’s going to do a demo run for Red Bull on the brand new circuit. A little while ago I voiced some worries whether anybody would be able to find the place, as it sits in a remote region of a remote peninsula in a remote part of Asia.
Unfortunately I have no idea how difficult is really is to go there, as I always use my private jet for these things. So Karun and I agreed he’d send out a blow-by-blow report of his trip via Twitter, the new medium that lets the whole world look over your shoulder.
This confirms my worst suspicions. I wonder how many people will to go to this amount of trouble – 26 miserable hours of trains, planes, automobiles, many of these spent lost in translations.
This means that the only thing between racing for empty grandstands and something resembling a real Grand Prix is a massive number of Koreans.
The lads in Kimchi or whatever it’s called just announced the official opening of the circuit on September 5th, comfortably in time for the Grand Prix on October 24th.
I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Let me say this again: do not underestimate the Koreans. Ever. Top Gear did, skewering some unfortunate Hyundai model. The Koreans immediately struck back:
Now I can’t see Jeremy Clarkson any more without thinking of a moose. They didn’t forget The Stig either:
Journos, be warned. Write nicely about the Korean Grand Prix. Or else.
People keep buggering me about this Korean Grand Prix. Either it’s the threat of war, or delays in construction, or both.
As always it’s the journos that cause it, of course. In my youth we used to call this time of year cucumber time, the season when newspapers got so desperate that even cucumbers would make headlines. Or something to that effect. Nothing to report so let’s make some news ourselves.
Truth is, there’s little to report here. Construction’s on time and Koreans are deadline junkies anyway. Blimey, they even found time to design a new logo with a Croatian flag in it. Don’t tell the Croatians, or we’ll have another war on our hands.
Speaking of which, there’s the other bit that the journos always bring up. Sponsors, fans and the lot would stay away because of the threat of war.
Listen, journos: Continue reading
Had a word with Charlie Whiting yesterday, about Korea. He’s just been there for a site visit. So how’s it going in the Korea Auto Valley, Charlie?
“Great, Bernie.” He says. These Koreans know how to build. They’re not ready yet but they’ll get there in time. Beautiful site, in the middle of nowhere so nothing to stop them from finishing in time. No worries.”
That’s Charlie alright. Send him in to do the job, he’ll do the job. Inspect construction progress? Done. But will he see the big picture? No he won’t. That’s what Supremos are for, of course.
So do I worry? Of course I do. Do you see the artist impression Charlie got from the Koreans? Do you see what’s wrong with it?
I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it: Continue reading