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Kate Walker: This is the end

Mirko Stange

After countless flights (one colleague has been on 55 so far this season...), several dozen airports, and more than 100 nights in hotels, the 2015 Formula One season is drawing to a close.

Sadly, the competitive part of the season ended in Austin, one full month before Sunday's season finale in Abu Dhabi. Given that the Yas Marina Circuit pays handsomely for the privilege of hosting the last race of the year, it's a shame that this weekend is likely to be something of a damp squib on the excitement front.

Next week in Paris, the FIA will hold their season-ending gala, preceded by a week of meetings during which calendars are confirmed, regulations discussed, and all that jazz. That more paddock people are looking forward to the next World Motor Sport Council meeting than this weekend's race says a lot about the level of interest in a championship that's felt over since the end of the early season fly-aways...

As a long-standing opponent of the double-points finale farce we saw last year, I find myself thinking wistfully of a season that went down to the wire, and of a final racing Sunday with an uncertain outcome. Watching Finns fight for fourth is hardly the stuff dreams are made of.

Over the course of the past few days in Abu Dhabi - I came out early for the sunshine, only to discover cloudy skies and rain - rumours about the confirmed 2016 F1 calendar have started to do the rounds. While we have a week to wait before hitting the travel sites and cancelling all those free cancellation bookings made for the wrong weeks, the calendar gossips and speculators won't be silenced.

One theory doing the rounds is that Malaysia will in fact grab the season-ending slot currently occupied by Abu Dhabi. Having forked out for a finale that's currently irrelevant, word is that the AbDab organisers are happy to hand the slot over to Sepang should the Malaysian organisers want it.

Which is a real pity, because what the world wants at the end of the season is a chance to let its hair down and have a good time. Malaysia has much to recommend it, but the combination of far-flung hotels, Kuala Lumpur traffic, and general heat-based lethargy makes getting people together about as easy as cat-herding.

Abu Dhabi may have its critics - not least those who object to paying £8 for a pint of beer - but the compactness of the place makes it harder to avoid stumbling on paddock colleagues in a party mood than it is to find them.

Earlier this week Sergio Perez proposed handing the season finale to Mexico. "I believe that the Mexican Grand Prix is at the right time of the year," he said. "If you had it at the beginning, I think the expectations would be set so very high for all the other grands prix that come after. None of them are at a level that the Mexican GP is today.

"So I would put it at the end of the season. I would trade it with Abu Dhabi, and put it as the final race, because I believe it is the most special grand prix of the season."

Perez may have been speaking from a patriotic point of view - or simply the desire to end the season with the roar of local support still ringing in his ears - but the Force India driver has a point.

To end the season at a circuit with packed grandstands filled with both excitable and knowledgeable fans would be no bad thing. To end it in a city that showed itself to be capable of hosting one hell of a party - or half a dozen concurrent parties, as was the case on Sunday night - is just what those of us who spend our lives working the sport crave.

F1 arrived in Mexico City this year somewhat trepidatious, thanks to all manner of warnings about personal safety, but by the end of the weekend the chatter in the airport lounges focussed on little more than the absolute ball had by all.

Whether you're into an evening of beers and tacos al pastor from a roadside stand with a group of reprobate friends or nights spent quaffing free champagne surrounded by the great and the good of Mexican society you can get what you want and have a brilliant time doing it.

This weekend may be the end of the season, but the ultimate finale was four weeks ago. Shame.