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Abu Dhabi to close 2014 F1 season

Dubai: Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit will host the final race of the Formula One season next year, according to the 2014 calendar that was issued on Wednesday.

The sixth running of F1’s only twilight race will take place on November 23 next year — two weeks after the usual season-ending event at Interlagos in Brazil. The switch occurred after the proposed Mexico GP, which was due to be the penultimate race ahead of Brazil, didn’t make the final list and the International Automobile Federation (FIA) subsequently swapped the South American and Middle East GPs around.

Abu Dhabi was previously the final race of the year when it first made it to the F1 calendar in 2009 and 2010.

Races in New Jersey and South Korea were also dropped from the 2014 calendar, leaving the season remaining at 19 races instead of a record 22.

Mexico, New Jersey and Korea had been listed provisionally, with asterisks against them, on a previous calendar published in September by the sport’s governing body. But none appeared on the final version issued on Wednesday after a meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sports Council in Paris.

New Jersey’s Grand Prix of the America, with New York’s skyscraper skyline as a backdrop, had been due for a debut this year, but that had to be postponed due to financial issues, which continue to plague the race.

Organisers said they were working on “restructured financial arrangements” while the sport’s hard-nosed commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said he looked forward to a “first-class inaugural Grand Prix of America in 2015”.

“There is great demand for a race in New Jersey and I have no doubt we’ll be racing at Port Imperial in 2015,” Ecclestone said in a joint statement with Grand Prix of America.

“New races can take many years to get started, but there is significant momentum and we are close to realising a New York City F1 race.”

Mexico would have been making its return in November after a 22-year absence but there have been doubts over the readiness of the Mexico City track.

The poorly-attended Korean race, one of the least popular among Formula One’s travelling fraternity, has sustained heavy losses. Organisers, whose race at Yeongam in the far south was due to be moved from October to April, had sought a contract re-negotiation with Ecclestone.

India has also been axed from the 2014 calendar, although race promoters are hoping to return in 2015, while Austria is back after a decade away and Russia hosts a race for the first time in next year’s Winter Olympic city of Sochi.

The revised calendar led to a reshuffling of some dates and teams will be particularly relieved not to have the logistical headache of a ‘triple header’ of Monaco, New Jersey and Canada to contend with on successive weekends in May and June.

The absence of New Jersey, while expected, will be the biggest blow for a sport still battling for more than a niche profile in the United States, a major market for carmakers like Mercedes and Ferrari.

Most teams were reluctant to extend the season beyond 20 races, fearful for the impact of the increased burden on staff like engineers and mechanics as well as higher costs if more people had to be hired to cope.

The United States already has one popular grand prix in Austin, Texas.

— With inputs from Reuters

2014 F1 calendar

March 16: Australia (Melbourne)

March 30: Malaysia (Sepang)

April 6: Bahrain (Sakhir)

April 20: China (Shanghai)

May 11: Spain (Barcelona)

May 25: Monaco (Monte Carlo)

June 8: Canada (Montreal)

June 22: Austria (Red Bull Ring)

July 6: Great Britain (Silverstone)

July 20: Germany (Hockenheim)

July 27: Hungary (Budapest)

August 24: Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)

September 7: Italy (Monza)

September 21: Singapore (Marina Bay)

October 5: Japan (Suzuka)

October 12: Russia (Sochi)

November 2: United States (Austin)

November 9: Brazil (Interlagos, Sao Paulo)

November 23: Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)