Update: the official 2009 F1 calendar has now been published.
Brazil’s Grand Prix circuit Interlagos may have had its contract extended to 2015, but next year it will lose the role of season finale it has held (with one exception) since 2004.
From 2009 F1’s last race will be at the new venue of Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The circuit (you can see a diagram and recent photographs from the construction site here) will be a unique ‘hybrid’ street and permanent road course with a mix of quick bends, angular street track corners and typical Hermann Tilke long-straight-into-hairpin combos.
Here’s how next year’s calendar might look:
It’s unusual for a new circuit on the calendar to be introduced as the last race of the season, but not unheard of. It last happened on two consecutive years, 1984-5, when Estoril, Portugal and Adelaide, Australia respectively joined the calendar. Alain Prost won the former (losing the championship to Niki Lauda in the process) and Keke Rosberg (father of Nico) the latter, the final Grand Prix victory for the 1982 world champion.
The race will be sponsored by Etihad Airways, former title sponsor of Spyker whose logos now appear on the rear wings of the Ferraris. The venue will also have a Ferrari Theme Park with roller coasters, karts, rally cars and other attractions.
With the United States Grand Prix tipped to make a return (providing a sponsor is found) the 2009 F1 calendar could have up to 20 races.
*The German round of the championship is alternating between the Nurburgring and Hockenheimring. However the Hockenheimring owners have so far refused to share the title of ‘German Grand Prix’ with the Nurburgring owners. Last year they got around this by calling the Nurburgring race the ‘European’ Grand Prix. However with the new Valencia street circuit holding that title it will not be an option in 2009. If the conflict is not resolved, the title of ‘Luxembourg Grand Prix’, used for races at the Nurburgring in 1997 and 1998, could be revived.
**The Japanese Grand Prix is alternating between Fuji Speedway and Suzuka Circuit.
Keep track of all the test sessions, car launches races and more in 2008 and beyond with the F1Fanatic.co.uk Formula 1 calendar for Google Calendar: