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Formula One to have 19 races in 2009

June 25, 2008 19:19 IST

The Formula One season will stretch to 19 races next year with Abu Dhabi making its debut as the final Grand Prix in mid-November, the sport's governing body said on Wednesday.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) published the draft calendar, which starts in Australia on March 29 and has one more race than in 2008, after a meeting of its World Motor Sport Council in Paris.

The season will start and finish later than it has done for 20 years, with the final round on November 15.

The troubled French Grand Prix retained its slot with a June 28 date but there was still no return for the US Grand Prix, absent this year after eight successive visits to Indianapolis.

Abu Dhabi, with a new harbourside street circuit, will become the second Grand Prix in the Middle East after Bahrain on a calendar that otherwise features the same countries as this year.

The Gulf state will be the only new venue after street circuits in the Spanish city of Valencia and a night-time race in Singapore this year.

Brazil, previously the season finale, will become the penultimate round instead after a Far East swing through Singapore, Japan and China.

UPPER LIMIT

No circuit details or start times were given but Suzuka is due to host the Japanese race next year as part of an agreed alternation with Fuji while it is the Nuerburgring's turn to host the German round after Hockenheim this season.

The Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul reverts to its August date after being held in May this year, with Spain again the start of the European season at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

There will be four back-to-back races, starting with Australia and Malaysia.

Formula One has only once before had a 19 round championship, in 2005, but there has been talk of expanding to an upper limit of 20 now that teams do significantly less testing.

India and South Korea are hoping to make their debuts in 2010 while Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone would like to include Russia and the United States.

The French Grand Prix has still to be approved by the general assembly of the French federation (FFSA) at a meeting on Thursday.

Ecclestone said at the French Grand Prix last weekend that the race was likely to stay at Magny-Cours after previously stating that it would be axed.

The FFSA has a contract to run the race until 2011 but Ecclestone is eager to move it from the rural circuit to a track closer to Paris.

Disneyland Paris is a favoured option for the future, with plenty of hotel rooms and easy rail access from Paris and the rest of Europe.

Provisional calendar:

March 29 - Australia (Melbourne)

April 5 - Malaysia (Sepang)

April 19 - Bahrain (Manama)

May 10 - Spain (Barcelona)

May 24 - Monaco

June 7 - Canada (Montreal)

June 21 - Britain (Silverstone)

June 28 - France (Magny-Cours)

July 12 - Germany (Nuerburgring)

July 26 - Hungary (Budapest)

August 9 - Turkey (Istanbul)

Aug 23 - Europe (Valencia)

September 6 - Italy (Monza)

Sept 13 - Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)

Sept 27 - Singapore

Oct 11 - Japan (Suzuka)

Oct 18 - China (Shanghai)

Nov 1 - Brazil (Interlagos)

Nov 15 - Abu Dhabi

Source:
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