JUST CALM DOWN: Bernie Ecclestone is rethinking logistics in a bid not to extend the 2016 calendar into December. Image: AFP / Greg Baker
LONDON, Sept 8 - Abu Dhabi will remain F1's season-ending race next year but Bernie Ecclestone has calmed fears the calendar could extend into December to create a bigger gap between Singapore and Malaysia.
"I think we can escape going into December, otherwise it's getting a bit too near Christmas," the sport's 84-year-old commercial supremo told Reuters, confirming the finale would still be at the Yas Marina circuit.
The 2016 calendar remains very much a work in progress, with the 21-race draft version published in July sure to see some changes before being cast in stone later in the year.
Ecclestone confirmed Malaysia was set for a new slot, yet to be decided.
"I'm going to move that a little bit," the Briton said. "I don't know (where), I'm having a look now."
Malaysia, the second round of the 2015 season, had been pencilled in as the 13th round of 2016 with a Sept. 25 date, the weekend after Singapore's night grand prix.
While the Sepang circuit organisers had no qualms about being back-to-back with their neighbours' more glamorous race, paddock reports suggested the Singaporeans were less enthusiastic.
Ecclestone had suggested earlier in August 2015 that the season, due to end in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 27, could be stretched into December to keep the Southeast Asian races apart.
The calendar has already proved contentious in other areas, with the traditional August shutdown significantly eroded with Hungary on Aug. 7 and Belgium on Aug. 28 while pre-season testing has been reduced.
The championship is also more condensed and will have its latest start since 1988, with the opener in Australia scheduled for April 3.
Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams told reporters the sport's core Strategy Group would discuss the calendar, and the reduced break, at their next meeting.
Williams said: "It does worry us and it's something that we'll be putting on the agenda. Not having that shutdown is a concern. It's so important for everybody that works within the team and F1 that they have that break...so we'll be lobbying to have it reinstated."
"I still think Mr E is in conversations with various promoters around some of those races on the calendar which may enable a little bit of flexibility," said Williams.
Azerbaijan is due to make its debut in 2016 while Germany returns after a year's absence. Promoters of both said both grands prix were sure to happen.