Abu Dhabi circuit to make debut on day of farewells
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Abu Dhabi's brand new Yas Marina circuit prepares to make its spectacular Formula One debut this weekend, though both the driver's and the constructor's titles have already been awarded.
REUTERS - Formula One is facing a weekend of farewells just as the sport's newest arrival, Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit, prepares to make a spectacular debut.
With both titles already won by Jenson Button and his Brawn GP team, Sunday's season-ender brings down the curtain on an astonishing season that ripped up the form book from day one in Australia.
Button, who has led the championship since Melbourne and can look forward to his first stress-free weekend in months, will be wanting to end his year in the same style that he started it -- with a win.
Others have just as great an incentive to do well under the floodlights of Formula One's first day-to-night race before moving on.
The Middle East's second grand prix marks the end of the road for German manufacturer BMW, who announced back in July that they would be pulling out of the sport at the end of the season.
Poland's Robert Kubica, runner-up in Brazil earlier this month, will be keen to give them one last podium before he heads off to join Renault.
"This will be a very special race for all of us in the team," said Germany's Nick Heidfeld. "So far I haven't really had that feeling of saying goodbye. But that will change in Abu Dhabi for sure and will probably be quite intense."
Spain's Fernando Alonso, moving to Ferrari for 2010, must say goodbye -- for the second time in three years -- to the former champions who took him to two world titles.
"I would love to finish the season and my Renault career with a great result," he said.
"It will be an emotional race because I have enjoyed so many special memories with this team and I am leaving behind a lot of friends."
Finland's 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen brings down the curtain on a three-year stint at the glamour team with his future still uncertain.
His current team mate, Giancarlo Fisichella, is set to bow out altogether after 14 seasons in Formula One. The Italian has a new contract as Ferrari's test and reserve driver in his pocket.
Several other drivers, including Button's Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello and Williams' Nico Rosberg, are likely to be making their last appearances for their current employers.
While the top two places in the constructors' championship are cast in stone, Barrichello is still fighting Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel for the runner-up slot in the drivers' standings.
Germany's Vettel is currently second, two points ahead of the Brazilian.
McLaren and Ferrari are locked in combat for the third place in the constructors' rankings, with the former just one point ahead of the Italians.
Force India, ninth of the 10 teams, have not given upon their dreams of overhauling Renault for eighth place even if they will have to score at least as many points (13) on Sunday as they have all year so far.