Le Mans MotoGP Subscriber Notes: The Wrong Ducati Winning, Contract Revolt Brewing, And Why Can't Riders Overtake?

The rain held off, despite a brief shower which caused mayhem during the Moto3 race and meant the first race of the day had to be severely shortened and restarted (TV is king, and only absolute disaster can be allowed to move the start of the MotoGP race from its sacred 2pm CET slot), and so we got the dry MotoGP race we deserved. No descent into chaos and confusion, no randomized results based on gambles, smart or otherwise, or appetite for risk.

In fact, chaos is fast becoming a thing of the past in MotoGP. The first few races seemed like an absolute lottery, for one reason or another. In the first three races of 2022, there were 9 different riders on the podium, with nobody seemingly capable of getting on the podium a second time. At round 4, in Austin, we saw the first podium repeats, with Enea Bastianini and Alex Rins on the box once again, and Jack Miller making it 10 different riders on the podium in 4 races.

Since returning to Europe, order has been restored to the MotoGP hierarchy. Or perhaps it is better to say, a new hierarchy has established itself at the top of MotoGP. In the last three races, only one new rider has made it to the podium, Pecco Bagnaia at Jerez. Since Austin, the podium has very much seen the same people on repeat: Aleix Espargaro making it three third places in a row, Fabio Quartararo doubling up at Portimão and Jerez, and Johann Zarco, Jack Miller, and Enea Bastianini making a return.

Taking charge

Fabio Quartararo continues to lead the championship, despite a slightly disappointing result at his home grand prix. Aleix Espargaro's star continues to rise, the only rider with four podiums so far this season, and showing precisely the kind of consistency that wins championship. There's a Ducati near the top of the championship standings, though not Bologna's favorite son Pecco Bagnaia, but Enea Bastianini instead. And there's a chasing pack in pursuit of the leading trio, containing the two Suzuki riders, the two factory Ducatis, Johann Zarco, Brad Binder and Marc Marquez.

But the fact that Bastianini dominated and has now won three of the seven races is starting to put pressure on Ducati. And the sudden availability of Alex Rins and Joan Mir due to Suzuki's withdrawal has blown the rider market wide open. In many ways, what we saw at Le Mans held a lot of significance for the future, both in terms of the 2022 championship and for who ends up where – and who is left out in the cold – for 2023.

So in these notes, a few questions arising from the Le Mans round of MotoGP. Some with an impact in the short term, some which will matter over the longer term. And a look at why the race turned out the way it did.

  • The meaning of Enea Bastianini's victory
  • Why the wrong Ducati winning is causing contract headaches
  • How Suzuki's withdrawal is shaking up the rider contract market
  • The need for a rider union in MotoGP, and why it won't happen
  • Aleix Espargaro is creeping closer to be the favorite for the title
  • Fabio Quartararo can't overtake, and it's not necessarily down to the front overheating
  • Why MotoGP riders can't overtake any longer, and why that is a really bad thing

Great leap forward

Before all that, let's start with just how fast this race was. And in fact, just how much faster MotoGP is compared to four years ago. On Friday, Enea Bastianini shaved 0.04 off Johann Zarco's record from 2018. On Saturday, that got taken to another level, with 10 riders getting under Zarco's previous lap record, and Pecco Bagnaia destroying it by nearly three quarters of a second.

A dry track meant this got carried into the race. Once again, 10 riders got under Maverick Viñales' race lap record from 2017, Pecco Bagnaia claiming the new record with a lap of 1'31.778, over half a second quicker than Viñales. And that wasn't just a one off. Enea Bastianini smashed Marc Marquez' record for race time by over 15 seconds over 27 laps. Five other riders finished faster than Marquez' time from 2018, including Marc Marquez himself.

Perhaps the fact that Marquez could only beat his own best race time by five thousandths of a second is a sign in itself of where the Honda stands currently.

The winner was not someone you might have expected on Saturday night. With Pecco Bagnaia on the front row, and Fabio Quartararo exhibiting fearsome pace, few had eyes for Enea Bastianini. His pace in FP4 was decent, but not exceptional, and there were plenty of riders who were obviously quicker than him.

The start of the race changed everything, though. Bastianini got an outstanding start, charging through to take second heading into the chicane, cleverly using the outside line and some superb braking to slot in behind Jack Miller. He messed that up at Turn 8 Garage Vert, running wide and losing two places to Pecco Bagnaia and Alex Rins.

He soon found his feet again though, and after Alex Rins crashed out – after a terrifying trip through the gravel at Turn 1, coming back onto the track almost directly in front of Miller and Bagnaia at Turn 4, sacrificing himself and the bike to ensure there were no collisions – he was soon hunting down the factory Ducatis.

What was most impressive about Bastianini was the way that he found to pass both Miller and Bagnaia, despite the difficulties of passing at Le Mans. He took a long time to line up both passes, sitting on the tails of the factory Ducatis and sizing up his options. He got past Miller by hanging onto the tail of the Australian through Musée and using the extra speed to force his way in front at Garage Vert.

Bastianini's pass on Bagnaia was even more inventive. Again, it took the Gresini rider a long time to line up, but on lap 21, he managed to close the gap to the factory Ducati enough to give him a fighting chance to outbrake Bagnaia into the Dunlop Chicane. Bagnaia responded superbly, seizing his chance when Bastianini went a fraction wide at La Chapelle to retake the lead, but Bastianini was not to be bested. He sat on Bagnaia's tail through Musée, preparing for a repeat of the pass on Jack Miller.

As it happened, he didn't need to try. Bagnaia was so focused on keeping Bastianini behind that he ran hot into Garage Vert and let Bastianini through. Half a lap later, Bagnaia made another mistake, pushing the front a little too hard into the first right at Raccordement and sliding into the gravel. It was game over for the factory Ducati rider.

That was part of the plan, Bastianini claimed afterward. "When I tried to overtake him, for me Pecco has a been a little bit nervous," the Italian told the MotoGP.com website. "He overtook me again and after he has made an error."

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Source: 
year: 
2022
round_number: 
7

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Comments

Nice summary, and I think most of your readers will agree with your opinion there and whatever reasoning you apply to the thought.

Pros and cons. Dispassionately. And then let’s see. Including considering whether they should be more closely regulated, as well as whether they should be banned. And the effects any action may have on participating (and non participating) manufacturers, their talent pools etc. And the impact on other motorcycle racing at world level. And, please, contrary to what David was tweeting during the race, let’s accept that no one credible is arguing that prototype racing has to be a complete free for all. This is a serious issue and straw men need not apply. 

Pro: Braking distances will increase, and the riders will find multiple lines through corners, aiding overtaking. Costs will decrease. Trap speeds will decrease. Bodywork will be less likely to litter the track during competition. 

Cons: Lap times could increase because Michelin control tires have front-rear grip imbalance (possibly)

Perhaps some fans will complain about the lack of technology, but they should be told the story of Fillipo Preziosi, the last disrupter in MotoGP. He started the process of integrating carbon fiber into chassis components, and exploring a new version of motorcycle "monocoque" design. His competitors were terrified of what could happen if he started winning. His company was terrified of what would happen if he didn't start winning. In the end, Preziosi was told to roll his wheelchair somewhere else. His innovations were shutdown so Jerry-Vale could develop an aluminum twin spar chassis (lol). 

Prior to Preziosi's resignation, Ducati put him in the R&D department because, presumably, innovation belongs in Superbike and the production market, not MotoGP. Honestly, I don't know why we keep pretending the tech charade is real. It's not. GP bikes are power dense, wieldy (by way of a prototype chassis) and have been notoriously difficult to ride, attracting only the very best riders.

The most advanced technology is inside the rider's helmet. Most of the ECU tech needs to be ditched so the factories can get back to rapid prototyping equipment for their highest paid employees. If you want to play with electronics, go to WSBK where they are actually needed as part of the BoP formula. 

And those in the paddock will only care relative to the lap times of the others.

but I hope people can think for themselves and have enough history with this and other forms of motorsport to see that great racing is dependent on confluence of events, teams, personalities, and rules all happening at a given time. It ebbs and flows. When we had such a peak of "great" racing like we've had in recent years a return to "good" racing seems horrible. Shall we go back 10 years with no aero and no ride height but only a couple of bikes and a few aliens capable of winning... all season long? Perspective is important. 

800's. Indestructible Bridgestones*. Fuel reduction. Gen-U-ine aliens. Times were different.

Fanboy up and pick your favourite alien personality - try and ignore the procession and pretend that it wasn't a "first one to go a metre wide finishes second" for years on end.

Pick your alien:

  1. Broody personality.
  2. Irritating personality.
  3. No personality.
  4. "It's very complicated" personality.

Personally I went with #1 and was blessed with many happy Sundays. Even better for me at the time that #4 was on an ego-adjustment tour for a couple of years.

Personally, I want to see changes made. Intentional dirty air turbulence, increased speed/risk, electronics limiting rider mistakes, Red Baron instead of Lady in Red..

More mistakes. Less aero. Ride height outlawed. I'd be happy with that, lap times be damned.

 

*Until they spectacularly weren't indestructible every now and then.

The 'old days' of 800s and/or bridgestone produced processional races for different reasons than we are seeing now. In those times when two riders did find themselves together on track with similar pace then battles raged. When a rider found themselves back on the grid but with good race pace they could finish on the podium, they could make progress. That remained the situation into the 1000cc era. In the last five years the bike performance was brought much closer together, more bikes found themselves together on track with similar pace. I think the key issue today is that a rider can have better pace but that extra pace vanishes when they catch the rider ahead. An invisible wall. A riders pace used to vanish because they were caught up battling another. Each destroying the others perfect line, eating into their tyres and producing the spectacle people pay to see. Now, to some extent, it's better pace leads to half a second behind and no closer.

I do wonder what differences there are for the combinations of bikes following each other. I don't know to what degree the Ducati changes pitch from 'rear end ride height down on the straight' and braking 'on its nose with rear end back to normal'. Looking at the moustache wings on the Ducati the change will move them somewhere between 'efficient aerofoil' and 'brute force high drag flap', can't be that many degrees though. I wonder what that feels like for the rider behind. Some bikes can make the move, some are stuck.

incentives are to create a nasty wake behind each bike. That being said, seems like if you are the Beast you can pass, also of note here is the top speed of the GP21. The passing has become more difficult and top speed is a definite advantage. If you are on the Yammy you must lead from T1 or it ain't gonna happen.

Seems to me the compromise for a team may be drop downforce drag all-together and nail the ride height device. I haven't seen any of the factories do it but if I was Yamaha that might bring the top speed necessary while reducing some load on the front tire. Perhaps winglets on during qualifying then they somehow "break" before the race. I don't know the rules on fairing usage during a race weekend. They get 2 homologated fairing designs per year right? I seem to recall folks switching between FP and the race but does the setup used in quali have to be used during race day?

As a side bonus the R1M still lack winglets so the marketing department need not complain.

That's the interesting part. Look at the Yamaha, look at the Ducati. One has a moustache, the other has wings and things everywhere. So the Yamaha produces less messy air for the bike behind ? I'm not so sure, the rider popping up out of the bubble will produce plenty anyway, spinning wheels too. I'm not so sure that the wings make the 'dirty air' worse. I think that the dirty air, which was always there, hurts the performance of the bike more because the bikes rely on the downforce more than they used to. On the other hand the Yamaha is surely less dependent on because the wings are smaller ? One thing I think is for sure, if they didn't need them, they wouldn't have them. They could remove them for the race, not have these issues and finish near the back.

Looking back over the years, with the exception of 2016 pre wing rules, the bikes didn't have much in the way of wings. The Honda grew a moustache wing like everybody else but compared to the wings of this year it was more of a gesture. They also grew little side winglets, they look soooo tiny. 2019 and more so 2020 the Ducati begins the transformation to what we see today. KTM and Ducati have many wings. Aprilia and Honda have huge complex moustache wings. Yamaha can't push much through the air. I wonder if the large moustache wings put all the eggs in one basket. Maybe the Ducati 'many wings' is more resistant overall to disturbance because some are working at any given time whereas if the Aprilia wing is disturbed...

The dirty air behind the wings will be much worse, wake turbulence from lifting (or downforce) devices comes from vortices formed at the wing tips (even though MotoGP wings are not totally free at the tip they will still form). NASA did a bunch of work in the 70's I think letting smoke off at the end of runways and have jet airliners fly over to work out how much time gap they need at airports between aircraft taking off / landing. A couple of years ago a Bombadier Challenger (about 20 seat private jet) was flipped 3 times by the wake of an A380 in mid-flight. A MotoGP bike's wake is going to be nothing like that (many thousand times weaker) but with such small differences in lap times the turbulence from wing-tip vortices will be worse than the wake behind a "clean" fairing they used to have. Moto3 shows this well with their slipstreaming madness. Someone suggested if they ban external wings they will just hide them inside the fairing, this may be much better as no wing tips = less wake turbulence.

I haven't followed F1 for a while, but years ago I remember F1 trying to stop "ground effect" by increasing the clearance of the car (initially requiring a plank of wood or something on the underbody to show they weren't cheating? I remember this causing as issue during a wet race at Suzuka where water was running across the track and pushing on the plank and the car sideways? Memory not as good as it was). The theory here was that F1 was using a venturi effect underneath the cars, reducing the clearance in the middle to accelerate the air which makes the pressure lower which "sucks" the car on the ground. The higher clearance stopped this but the teams responded by deliberately creating vortices underneath the car (the centre of the vortex is also low pressure - achieving the same end but makes more drag), but this made the wake turbulence really bad. I think I read somewhere that the rules have changed to allow the venturi style again this year which I assume the F1 rule makers hope will reduce the turbulence behind and allow for better performance close behind.

Sorry, long post, but the point is I think the idea of banning anything outside the fairing, or reducing the total fairing width (the wings are meant to be integral with the fairing?) I think would go a long way to reducing the negative effects of being close behind.

Say sorry for such an interesting comment. Having experienced an air wash turbulence on a passenger flight I can confirm that the violence of it was astounding. I am no expert but the rest of your comments align with my reading too. The fact is now that with rare exceptions we are accustomed to the idea that if one doesn't qualify on one of the first two rows of the grid one has little hope of getting on the podium. We did see Rins and MM make a run through the field this year but those efforts are pretty rare and that would seem to align to the idea that the wings aren't helping the ability to overtake.

Sure you get vortices off the edge of a wing tip, I think more so with more sweep. You could also just bolt almost any shape to the wing or fuselage at the right angle and create vortices that way too. The whole plane, especially something a bit lumpy, will be surrounded by vortices around some axis. A bike will generate a lot too. In many ways nice big ones with an axis that is in line with the direction of travel would be better than a million little chaotic buggers from the myriad of things bolted on the bike, such as the rider. Speaking of which I sort of half presumed that's what KTM where doing with their 'toothed' fairing.

https://www.roadracingworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Brad-Binder-K...

Vortices are sometimes used to create a wall of sorts. You mentioned ground effect and a plank...before and after this the cars used 'vortex generators' in an attempt to create an aero wall along the edges of the underside...a sort of aerodynamic end plate. I thought maybe KTM were finding that generating vortices in one axis cost less than the more random chaotic pattern of turbulent flow created by rider/leathers/bars etc. Reminded me of something from 28 years ago !

https://digbza2f4g9qo.cloudfront.net/-/media/IndyCar/VideoImg/2019/05/05...

Forgive the car but do you see the teeth ? Look quite fancy from this angle but it's just small triangles.

Anyway, the wings will create turbulence but I think compared to the tyres, wheel and rider maybe it's not so big. Very messy with or without wings. It's a good thing as it indicates a lot more drag which is good when braking.

https://i0.wp.com/fyfluiddynamics.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/veri_tu...

A nice reference animation of Fabio's head.

I do remember Marc, Dovi and Miller talking of finding walls in the air which trapped them in a slipstream though...maybe it was wing tip vortices.

David, you mention turbulence … is there any credibility to comments that Rins’s crash was due to aerodynamic forces trailing off the Ducati (Miller?) that he was following?

Generally accepted that it was a significant factor. Can't be singled out as clear cause. The "sucked in and over shooting the brake marker" long predates aero, but the wobble-waggle accompanying it is newish.

The rider salaries are coming down some due to the change in both the economy surrounding MotoGP specifically via lots of riders chasing a few seats, plus the global downturn we are starting to acknowledge. It must be reckoned with. Mir has to play the ball game. Marc was fortunate to sign the deal he did. In no way is Mir going to sign a huge deal like that now. But, push them. They want the deal. 

So Bagnaia doesn't want Bastiannini in Red, and does want a Pedrosa-like Miller. Tough titties kid, you aren't in the driver's seat. Not a significant factor when he is faltering along the gutter. This isn't a friendly front yard match. Coddling him just feeds his particular nail nibbling. There needs to be sufficient comfort and support, but there can never be that ideal crib and full belly. If Pecco's awareness wanders about out of his line on the track and right hand, give him less attention and coddling. I am not inherently harsh, but do easily ebb and flow amongst adaptable responses. Bastianini has the seat in hand. Don't over think or convoluted it, it will invariably bite you. Competition in a Team is healthy, despite preferences otherwise. Nip that crap in the bud.

Martin has been looking like he's trying to not get signed. The obvious can't be ignored. 

Things march on. Little patience for getting stuck on such things. 

"Aleix Espargaro is a genuine Championship contender" - amen! They will keep him. We are in a posturing phase of silly season, it will get serious very soon. 

The used car lot antics are on show. We really are appearing to be on the slide down into a major recession. The brass aren't entirely wrong to reassess rider salaries. Plus, there are only HOW many top seats? Play your hand. 

Me and Grandma enjoyed gin rummy. Lots of plop them down and smile. This is nothing like that. Just a couple cards in the deck that everyone wants. So be it.

I'm not sure why Bastiannini would want the 2nd red seat and all the team politics that involves, as opposed to a contract for full factory support as the #1 in his existing team. Gresini (and Pramac) have shown they are quite capable of winning if given the right equipment and riders - and they've certainly got the rider, so just need the factory equipment-support.

Whatever warm fuzzies there are to be had in a MotoGP garage are definitely not to be found in the factory Ducati environs.

Hope EB23 keeps taking it to the other Ducati riders, love to see those lilac/lavendar colors on the top step. We'll see.

If aerodynamic and ride height devices are banned, the show will likely improve and the participatory cost curve will be bent downward. The manufacturers knew this from the outset, but mankind’s desire to consume forbidden fruit is apparently insatiable. Corporate desire to replace human talent with proprietary technology is equally insatiable.

If the fans need a good show, we should pay someone to roast the GPC for their lifelong struggle to profit from a spectacle in which a man hangs off of a two-wheeled steed at 150mph, and drags parts of his body along the pavement in an act of rebellion that provokes the gods.

The GPC is holding a golden goose, but instead of riches we get: “I’ve got the best new subplot for MotoGP, guys! Hideous looking bikes that cannot overtake each other!”

I have never seen sentient beings struggle so mightily to subsist on such a lavish allowance.

The manufacturers aren't in it for the show, they're in it to win and to hell with anything else!

If the aero and droppers aren't banned and overtaking becomes even tougher, how about refueling...they can then overtake in the pits!  What a great idea eh? How about changing tyres too, oh just think how good it will be then zzzzzzzzzzzz

Phone voting from the public to give 1 rider every 5 laps an extra power boost. You can tell who has the boost from fancy neon lights around the exhuast.

However, does anyone else think MotoE would be better if they sounded more like the Tron light bikes from the original movie ? They've got half the sound, they just need that low throbbing 'energy' sound.

I don't think banning wings or ride height devices will reduce costs at all. More likely to increase costs in the short term (maybe long term also).

maybe the solution is to ban Gigi.  The powers that be are going to be playing whack a mole with that guy as long as he is in the paddock.  all said tongue in cheek.  i love the creativity that guy has.

re: Aliex.  You can see on his face he's living the dream, always a look of i told you so and disbelief. Really happy for him. A lot of slagging off over the years, but proving his talent.  Have to wonder what we might have seen had the Aprilia come good a few years ago.

Is concealed aero within the fairing going to be cheaper than clip on wings?

Ban wings and they will find another way to do it though ground effect is going to be a bit difficult!

Many riders seem to be always giving it 100% and despite having 'mega' engines struggle to overtake even though they do not lose 5, 6, 7, 8 meters on the straights.

The amount a rider gets paid will inevitably be linked to results. However, it should also be strongly linked to how much money is in 'the game'. The riders are the human element in the show. What they do is amazing to watch and that's why people watch it. Ducati, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Aprilia or KTM bikes don't overtake or battle with anything. They are just the tools carried into the fight. Interesting and often beautiful machines which without the rider sit stationary, collect cobwebs, leak oil and eventually used as a toilet by the local strays. The potential cost to the riders of doing what they do goes all the way to the end of the line and visits every station on the way. No other member of the team risks anything even remotely comparable. Not even close. That should receive fair compensation in relation to how much money is in the pot and not pushed down because 'if you don't like it there's a queue at the door'. That should be even more important when dealing with nutters who, if there was no other way, would do it for expenses alone. It's not fair to take advantage of their passion.

If the money in the game goes down then...c'est la vie.

… Every one of them would do it for nothing if they had to. Why? Because it’s generally the only thing they really want to do in life. The proof is in the club series. The only reason Vale, Marc, Jorge etc got paid gazillions was so they wouldn’t go race for another team. And here’s the rub; right now we seem to be edging towards the bike being the deciding factor. It won’t matter how good YOU are, if right next to you on the grid is a bike that will get to the first corner before you do, and can be ridden metronomically for 26 or 27 laps.

Phoenix - beautifully put.

Exactly. Is it correct ? The people risking the most, the actual meat that makes the show get as small a piece of the cake as possible because hey man it's a passion they'd do it for free. Rock'n'roll. The way I see it every financial step they take professionally has to consider retiring (or worse) tomorrow. Not only for the rider's sake but their family's sake too. I'd hate to see a return to the days of organisers, teams and circuit owners enjoying the profits made off the broken bones of relatively poorly paid riders.

No, it's not in the least bit fair or right, but it's the way of the world. And this is why the riders really should form a union. Individually, they have very little power. But when the whole says no, it's a different game.

The bikes really need to allow the riders to make more mistakes. Stoner has called for this many times and has been especially loud about it in retirement. The argument of "you can only overtake if the guy in front of you makes a mistake" quickly becomes irrelevant when many mistakes are being made across the board.

The question is, how do you actually ban aero? MotoGP has had aerodynamic bikes for decades already, the current situation is just an evolution.

They banned ‘winglets’ and said the fairing must not be wider than some set amount. How is it possible to create a rule that bans what we have currently?

It would seem that Aero benefits from horizontal surfaces, it seems that the vertical surfaces offer next to no benefit. Given this, limiting the horizontal (and/or fore/aft) extent of wings might be the best way forward. Further, I'd revert to the short lived ruling from a couple years ago. Everything internal. Make max fairing width to engine/frame + X mm. So other than the air intake and the radiator opening, no opening wider in the horizontal of more than say 25mm. One could limit external inflection points, acute angles, etc and force fairings to a convex shape. Yes Gigi could stack multiple 25mm wide wings inside his fairing and get some of the down force back. Now its up to Webb to keep that in check. No more broken off wings, no more wings in the kidneys. Of course the tail section is a whole 'nuther can o' worms.

Way simpler: put the bike on a scale inside a wind tunnel and dismiss it if downforce is not zero.

How do we see this aero issue playing out in the next race in Mugello?  Approaching T1 at 350+ k/hr while right behind another rider seems to be the worse case for David's point about aero/ride height devices. 

Good one, David. It's hard to disagree. If processional racing becomes a pattern, that's trouble for the show. Bridgestone era racing without the gaps. That's like a tease. Frustrating. Why don't they pass? Imagine explaining the intricacies of tire temps and pressures, wings and gizmos to the casual fan. I tried it with the wife and daughter Sunday night and the car went silent. They perked up when describing Zarco launching across the chicane, but that was all. Almost gave up on Motogp during the Bridgestone era. What a snooze fest. Clicking ambient mode was like taking a sleeping pill. I kept nodding off during the races! The wife woke me up with her laughing. Exciting race, huh?

If it wasn't for the Beast last Sunday, the race would have been downright boring to me. Other than the first couple of laps. Race determined by Q2 and the initial scuffle when the lights go out. Sounds like F1. That Basianini - he's like a blue heeler nipping at your heels. How was he able to pass? Was he talking about chatter in T1? Can't imaging tires skipping along the tarmac at 300 clicks. Sounds terrifying. That kid is spicy on the track and off. If he sees the glass half-empty after a lousy weekend, he says it. And those barbs shot at Bagnaia? The guy speaks his mind. I like it! Don't go to the red box next year! Stay at Gresini with full factory support. The red box is a career killer for anyone not named Stoner. Yeah, Dovi had a lot of success there, and Lorenzo some too, but where are they now? For all the riders besides Stoner, how many total podiums were achieved after their tour through the factory Ducati box? I can't think of any. Stoner won another championship with Honda, but the rest?

Miller to KTM? Maybe something good will come from that move, but it would be a drastic departure of the pattern of the past. Sounds like the last option before a move to World Supers. Dorna needs that series for Motogp castaways. The motogp rider market is starting to sound like a meat market. Just get me the cheapest beef willing to risk its own hide.

Thank God for the Beast. He pretty much saved the show last weekend. Reminds me of when Marquez burst onto the scene in 2013, only Bastianini is more likable. But, gotta admit, Marquez' humility these days is refreshing. He's honest about the weak points of both the rider and the bike. At least it seems that way. And apparently he's been concerned about the show for while. Fans aren't able to discern the difference in speeds. A casual observer doesn't understand how fast these guys are going by looking at the screen. When you tell them they top out over 200 mph, their eyes grow wide in disbelief. It just doesn't look that fast. But after a few laps with no passing, their eyes glaze over. One friend said, "You see, that does nothing for me." I don't know what anyone should do. All I know is that all the hype in the world won't get me interested in a high-speed parade. It puts me to sleep. Literally. 

To be fair, we're a bit spoilt in many ways. I recently got a text from a really good mate who is a dedicated lifelong F1 addict saying that he is so grateful for getting him into the bikes because he loves it so much. That was during FP2.. so he's not skipping sessions either.

Lack of passing and too much intervention that prevents sufficient penalty per rider error is the/a glaring issue. If it's aero or holeshot I don't care, I just want those issues resolved. More room for rider error ----> More overtaking.

MotoGP had so much going for it as the condensed 2020 rolled on too. It's a real shame.

takes me right back to your first girlfriend - sights, sounds, feelings - that shoulder cam really took me back to my racing days. Never, ever has an image or video been able to do that. Quite astounding for me.

Aero - it has been around the last few years and overtaking has been solid. Therefore it would appear that the issue may lay with ride height devices. Having the the COG lower allows greater braking forces and shorter distances, as does the aero. Would be a good decision for Dorna to ban ride height devices for a few rounds and see what happens to the action. They could do the same with aero. Gather some data on the number of overtakes and makes some calls. It's also possible the fault lay solely in Michelin's direction with the front tire, and honestly they may never find a proper fix unless they do a huge change in direction with construction which does not seem to happen among tire constructors.

The balance between the show and the tech development/freedom is very delicate but Dorna needs to fight for that.

Riders ride and make a huge difference. Factories which take a car mindset can flood the field with bikes and invest in the machine to the nth degree but unless they get the right rider they will find ultimate success difficult. The great rider/bike combos will make good money, we have enough barriers to new blood getting a shot and we don't need more. Get the results and get paid, pay for your ride or get out. The viewers get a better show and the guys taking the risks have better odds of success. Sounds like a winning combo to me. 

Go Bastianini! Q's riding the wheels off that Yammy. Nakagami - putting together decent results on the Honda but it's not enough I should think, and if so then AM needs to be out as well. Alex E. continues to impress and that Aprilia is a solid machine. I'm afraid my questioning about Rins seem to have been prescient. Bad timing for him.

Ducati - how much data do you need before you admit the GP22 is inferior to the 21? I think the top speed says it all, especially in this environment. It matters a ton if you want to make a pass among the top 5 given all the other complaints. DRS anyone?

you would also be opposed to renaming motoGP "motoH" where the greatest riders in the world ride fast and clean hybrid bikes. We could institute a "fan boost" for the most popular rider, aiding in the overtakes, all the while reducing our carbon footprint and feeling good as a racing enthusiast. Inserting two bars of soap now.

The riders safety device and show enhancer also known as the Danger Reduction System would elicit such as strong response. Safety first!

Shuck fapeshifters 

Aero appendages removed, no wings. Define however you'd like Dorna, you've done tougher stuff before. We beg of you!

Sincerely, this is all out on the table in the full light of day. Dorna's job, they can do it. Snip it off NOW for 2023. Not a big deal to do. A big deal to not not do. 

Or was it that the Phoenix1 whose comments rose very quickly indeed? Well argued honoured Mutterer.

On a few notes; If I understand anything about the value of people and IP I would have to say that it would be nuts to break the knowledge and performance trajectory that Aleix is on with Aprilia. I mean seriously it's like 'We have someone who can win and put this thing on the podium so we decided to sack him'. Apart from the likely stupidity of that move it would make Aprilia look like a bag of dicks, and I seriously doubt that this image is a big part of the objectives of their MotoGP program. Besides this year's award in this category is richly deserved by Suzuki corporate so let's leave that alone. I agree with Joshua that there is every reason to believe still that the Ducati 2021 remains superior to the 2022, but even that doesn't reduce the amount of brownie points that MR Beast is accumulating. And on the whole wings and shape shifter issue all I can suggest is that cricket and baseball decided to limit their tech and it has preserved their legacy and human connection of effort and talent to the result. Apart from that example anything that remotely resembles F1 doesn't require a bar or two of soap - it needs an exorcist.

Thank you all for the great reading.

anything that remotely resembles F1 doesn't require a bar or two of soap - it needs an exorcist.

pmsl

Tone of my comments varies by the lens through which I'm viewing the sport. From the small picture of an insider. The sport is fine. MotoGP has 5 manufacturers. The upheaval created by Suzuki's departure and various component bans is not nearly as bad as the GFC/CRT era. Pandemic has been survived (hopefully). WSBK has found a new business model based upon sales and homologated components. National rulebooks are slowly aligning under the FIM rulebook, it appears.

If I look at the big picture as a casual outsider, I see an incredible spectacle, but many people are sullen because they struggle to monetize the sport, and their industry is shrinking. There is no difference between WSBK and MotoGP. The series cannibalize each other, and dilute the talent pool. The national series have split allegiances to the WSBK and GP paddocks. If I were a sponsor, I'd hesitate to throw money at an industry that resembles CART vs IndyCar.....especially since the series are operated by the same commercial rights holder and governing body!?

We all know how motorcycle racing ended up here. It was about 5 wrong turns and a couple of missed signs, a broken compass, a flat tire and a financial crisis. We think motorcycle circuit sprint racing will be fine. It always has been. To the rest of the universe, it looks like an X-wing swamped on Dagobah, and no one sees Yoda anywhere.

Normally I’m not the kind of guy going for the middle ground, and I surely respect David’s and fellow Motomuterrers’ insights, but… just an alternative viewpoint (haven’t done the math so the opinion isn’t backed by numbers).

It’s clear to see that Fabio (and the other Yamahas) has an issue overtaking. And that front tires are overheating. Aprilia has an issue overtaking, Marc too. There is just this nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps saying: Isn’t that the age-old problem of point-and-squirt bikes vs corner-speed bikes? According to Aleix he can carry lots of speed into corners. Honda has changed their  bike character. Last year it was Fabio and both Suzukis making the difference in carving through the field and battling the mighty Ducs. So isn’t it the lack of grunt of Yamaha rather than the Ducs’ devices? Suzukis have been in front haven’t they?

What is convincing you that it’s the devices?

(a propos, I’m not a fan of the devices either, and strongly believe that unlimited budgets are unsustainable over time - Ducati outspending on design innovations forcing all manus to follow is food for thought for sure and perhaps one thing that F1 have ideated well is the budget cap?)

And it's in our heads, like a mantra, gaining steam and becoming a real thing. Everyone is becoming aware of it because the riders are saying it. It must be true, they must be sincere, they wouldn't lie to us or use it as an excuse. The racing becomes a little sterile with not many passes. I see it with my own eyes, so I gotta believe it. The front tire temperature/pressure thing becomes a problem that must be fixed, to fix the racing, to save the show.

The fly in the ointment is the Ducati. Gabbarini said Bagnaia was the best rider on the brakes. Was he talking about just the Ducati riders or among the whole field? Well, Bagnaia was able to get past Miller. And the story about Bastianini was that he is very good on worn tires. Then that story evolved into he is very good at conserving tires. Bastianini attributed his progress last season with learning to be soft with the inputs. Gentle on the controls. And he said something about needing to remain calm during the race weekend after a subpar result. Yet, Bastianini hounded both Miller and Bagnaia before pulling off passes. What's up with that? How come his tire pressures didn't go through the roof? How was he able to do it? It doesn't fit with the story. It contradicts the belief in my head.

Cal was talking about being in a pack and pressure rising several years ago, not a new thing. The new problem is the bikes/riders depend on aero for braking. Being withing half a second or so means you don't have the aero thus needing to brake earlier so no way to outbrake and pass. As for the Beast, listen to Jack talk about him - he seems in awe of what Enea does, as am I. What you are seeing is a very special rider, imo. I don't think it's worth comparing him to others as he has his own special genius. Very special.

Maybe he's super calm when dive bombing another rider on the brakes. Quiet inside and unperturbed. Like on a stroll in the park on a beautiful, still day.  

It is a battle between square and round racing lines, but it appears the wings and ride height devices have made the decision for everyone. The riders struggle to outbrake one another because there is no later-apex. The overtaking seems to occur in flowing turns that cannot be easily squared, and one rider makes a pass by exploiting superior edge grip.

I'm not particularly troubled by a decline in overtaking, but MotoGP would lose a lot, if the technical regulations led to a single racing line, like most autosports. 

Thank you David for another insightful, thought-provoking, article.

And thanks to You Lot who bring such a wealth of experience, knowledge and respectful discourse to the comments.  I come away from here better informed and well entertained.

Brendan.

Must be JM36, AM73 doesn't seem a likely choice. What does seem likely to me is that the replacement would be for the other side of the garage. Diva isn't getting what he wants again. This time it's Aprilia's fault. You could hide an elephant inside Maverick and he'd never find it.

Did he ride for Gilera back in the 50s?

I used to get quite excited about the GP weekend, setting aside as much time as possible to hide away in the shed and watch all the practise sessions and qualifying. 
Now I just don’t seem to care. I thought it may be something changing in me but this article illustrates what I’ve been experiencing. 
A lack of excitement in the races. They’re all becoming a bit hum drum. I still can’t put my finger on it entirely and look forward to reading your thoughts on the matter but I’m hoping something changes soon before it becomes a 2 wheeled F1 knock off.