The new MotoGP format was supposed to bring a little more excitement to a weekend, and it has certainly done that. If anything, it has brought a little too much excitement at some points: Of the 22 riders who turned up on the Thursday before the season opener at Portimão, only 17 started the race a week later in Argentina.
The sprint races themselves have made for fantastic viewing, mainly because they have encouraged riders to try to make more passes. The problem is, the MotoGP manufacturers – or rather, the European manufacturers which are dominating MotoGP – are doing everything in their power to build bikes that are hard to overtake. So the only way to get past is to take a lot more risk, especially on the opening lap.
I say 'only way', but in fact there is another way to get to the front without taking any risks in passing. And that is to take risks during qualifying. And to take risks in qualifying, you first have to take risks in the two practice sessions on Friday, to ensure a spot in Q2. If you are starting on the front row, you have to worry a great deal less about what happens behind you.