The Grand Prix Commission - MotoGP's rulemaking body - appear to have too little to do. A meeting last week announced yet another shakeup of the weekend schedule for each MotoGP event, which will see three sessions of free practice, of 45 minutes each, and an hour of qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
The announcement is the latest in a series of changes to the organization of practice, coming just over a month after the previous change. In the meeting of December 9th, 2010, the GP commission announced a return to the four-practice schedule, then agreeing that the MotoGP class would have four sessions of an hour, two sessions on Friday and two on Saturday, including qualifying in the afternoon. That has now been amended to three free practice sessions of 45 minutes (two on Friday and one on Saturday morning), with an hour of qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
The return to four sessions, tested at Aragon last year, then reinstated for the last two Grand Prix of 2010 at Estoril and Valencia, was widely welcomed, as it gave the teams more time to make setup changes between the sessions, the one complaint being that there was little time to make changes during the session, 45 minutes being too short. That situation appeared to have been rectified by the changes in December, but now a new compromise has been agreed, with free practice at 45 minutes and an hour of qualifying. The hour of qualifying means that the teams will have enough time to test setup changes, and still have time for the riders to try to set a fast qualifying time. The situation has been complicated by the engine allocation limits; Dorna was worried that riders would spend more time in the pits saving the mileage on their engines during the hour-long sessions, making for poor TV.
The MotoGP class is not the only class to have their schedule changed. The 125cc class was also due to have two 45 minute sessions on Friday and Saturday morning, with two 30 minute sessions in the afternoons. The 125s will now have four sessions of 40 minutes; with just one bike per rider, a crash during the afternoon qualifying session would have made it almost impossible to score a decent grid position. The extra ten minutes should allow more time for the riders to get back to the pits for a second chance.
Below is the official FIM press release, announcing the changes:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
2011 Event schedule
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of M. Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in an electronic meeting held on 14 January, unanimously decided to introduce the following modifications to the Event schedule:
Wednesday: Arrival and setting up of Teams
Thursday: Arrival and setting up of Teams
10:00 - 17:00 Technical and Sporting Checks and other formalities
|09:15-09:55||40 min.||125cc||Free Practice 1|
|10:10-10:55||45 min.||MotoGP||Free Practice 1|
|11:10-11:55||45 min.||Moto2||Free Practice 1|
|13:15-13:55||40 min.||125cc||Free Practice 2|
|14:10-14:55||45 min.||MotoGP||Free Practice 2|
|15:10-15:55||45 min.||Moto2||Free Practice 2|
|09:15-09:55||40 min.||125cc||Free Practice 3|
|10:10-10:55||45 min.||MotoGP||Free Practice 3|
|11:10-11:55||45 min.||Moto2||Free Practice 3|
|13:00-13:40||40 min.||125cc||Qualifying Practice|
|13:55-14:55||60 min.||MotoGP||Qualifying Practice|
|15:10-15:55||45 min.||Moto2||Qualifying Practice|
|08:40-09:00||20 min.||125cc||Warm Up|
|09:10-09:30||20 min.||Moto2||Warm Up|
|09:40-10:00||20 min.||MotoGP||Warm Up|