Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 158: Dodging A Bullet On A Weird Red Bull Ring Weekend

The first round of MotoGP at the Red Bull Ring, the Austrian Grand Prix, was so wild from start to finish that we had to get a show out early. On Monday, Steve English, Neil Morrison and David Emmett got together virtually to discuss the events of the Austrian weekend for the latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast.

There was an awful lot to talk about: the incident with Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli generated a massive amount of controversy, about whose fault it was, and how dangerous the track is. We sift through the details and try to make sense of it, discuss what the fallout might be, and whether the crash might have cost Franco Morbidelli yet another engine.

Much, much more happened besides, once the racing started, and we walk through most of the details, answering listener questions along the way. There was Andrea Dovizioso's stunning win following his equally stunning announcement that he will be leaving Ducati at the end of the season. We ponder what happens next, where he might end up, and what it means for Ducati. We talk about how the crash and restarted race affected the tires available for the MotoGP riders. We discuss Joan Mir's podium, what could have been for Pol Espargaro, Alex Rins' crash, the state of KTM, Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira, why Maverick Viñales seems in deep trouble, and more.

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No consideration of Ducati giving Scott Redding a promotion if he looks likely take, or actually does take, the WSBK title? 

Unless Dorna lean on Ducati to put Redding into Pramac/factory squad to keep British BT Sport viewers happy - I cant see Redding back in Motogp until 2022 at the earliest if at all. He's got to beat Rea first. 

Now this may be a daft suggestion but what if the bikes had some sort of warning system, like the sentinel in Dakar. Not to oblige a rider to yield to an overtake - just to warn if there's someone in your blind spot or much closer behind than you think. Set of lights behind the windscreen, one for left, one for right, one for rear, glowing with varying levels of intensity and in combination if appropriate (left rear, right rear etc).

Race bikes don't have mirrors for obvious reasons but no one wants a stupid crash and people getting hurt or killed just because someone didn't see someone else. My car tells me when someone's in the blind spot – time for technology to catch up?

It'd be one thing in MotoGP, but imagine moto3, where the pitboards towards the end of the race were still saying "Group 21"! the light would never turn off on the dash! 

Good stuff, thanks.

I disagree with a bit throughout. Looks like I continue to generally fall into Team Morrison. Morbidelli could have rolled off rather than stayed on the gas into a braking zone while being passed. Doing so leaves him two lines to get into that right. Is anyone representing that perspective? No. Was Zarco's pass a bit much on that dangerous set of corners? Yes. He does need a talking to.

Dovisioso - there is a difference between him initiating the divorce vs him being given the opportunity to announce it. Ducati squeezed him over into a 2nd rider role and he passed on it. Of course none of us have to, but if forced to identify with a side I take Duc brass's. It is time to get the crested great rider of a few seasons ago replaced by a next hope amongst the 3 guys in the pipeline. Just time. Guessing Bagnaia. Martin or Zarco to Pramac.

The Red Bull Ring needs a repave. Betcha we get a reconfiguration much like you quote from Crafar. Ok, we squeaked by with a near miss. Moto2 as well. 

Great Podcast and I know all you guys are pro Binder, so am I, but not much of a mention about Brad Binders optimistic pass on Valentino on the second lap of Race 2 at Turn 9, which forced both them off the circuit into the runoff area.

Maybe we should call the Binders, "The Dive Bomb Brothers"

Didn't see any mention in the media about this either? Also did Vale chat Binder after the race about this?

Could that pass be put down to being a rookie, as well as being a little optimistic?

Brad Binder should be reprimanded and/or penalized! After the stress and carnage of race 1, Rossi and Binder would have been down and/or injured, if it was not for the paved run off area!

Andrea's treament by Ducati brass is nothing sort of shameful.  The only better rider in the entire world the past few years has been Marc Marquez, a once in a generation talent and Andrea has beat him in the final corner many times.  Rooting for Dovi, to win that title and get his due.  Fully agree with the podcast on this, as well as the Zarco comments. 

Dovizioso is held in high regard by his peers. Other riders do not understand what Ducati brass were doing. Got a gem there and they look elsewhere. I question which one is the baby monkey in this scenario.

Any straight that has a slow corner at it's end has the potential to have a major accident if somebody loses it under braking and takes out anybody in front like skittles - the same as falling in the pack it's not something that could be eliminated if you want to actually have racing with more than one bike on track .

Rather than have armchair critics demanding change wouldn't it be better to listen to the thoughts of the riders/teams not the journalists only risking a hang nail .

Have we come to the point where the bikes / cars have become so fast that possibly the only way to make racing as safe as risk averse modern society demands is to not have racing at all .

Any Rossi doubters - including me lately- will be silenced by his last race. He earned my respect when I thought he might have been past it last season.  1) He was best Yamaha, and 2) to see his life pass by, when he clearly doesn't need that risk so close to retirement - and yet still get on his bike and get faster..closing on the impressive (still learning super fast) Binder. Lets just absorb the fact we have an 'all-time great' still competing with the wild kids. As for Zarco, I have had a problem with Zarco since he joined MotoGP, certainly very fast - but he ran loose and was a chippy rider, clipping the odd competitor, on purpose or not. Probably the former. Last year on the KTM, it didn't show up when he was running mid/back pack - but now on the Ducati he has his confidence back - and he is the same - quick but let me say it straight -  on the edge of dirty. Doesn't need to be, but seems this is part of his make up. The most recent 'racing incidents' with Pol, and now Morbidelli can't be the way forward for MotoGP when 2 or 3 riders could have been killed. Zarco will NOT be given the benefit of the doubt, because he didn't earn the respect from the paddock. Can't be trusted in close quarters...and lacks the 'respect' of true greats that combine his speed but ride clean. MotoGP is the best motorsport in the world at the moment (look at the minute plus gap from 1st to 3rd in the Spanish F1 race..) but MotoGP should take a strong view to protect its greatest asset- protect the safety of their riders. Set the tone and give a proper penalty - so nobody else will be tempted and Zarco will finally know there IS a consequence. If MotoGP has the courage to do this, the incredible talented riders will put on a great show for a long time into the future. Safely. 

Great post KD.  But the doubters will persist until Valentino hangs them up.  If he wins a race, it'll be luck to them.  Been that way for years around these parts. 

As it pertains to Spielberg, the riders in the safety commission have been asking for the circuit to change this corner, for years now, and as was pointed out in the podcast, riders refusing to ride in the rain prior.  The circuit needs to change, they have the money, and it's the riders pushing for the change, not the armchair quarterbacks.  Look at the alternative, we could have had the worst day, or one of the worst days in GP history with 1-2 riders dying on Sunday.  The heat the circuit would take, Zarco, Dorna, etc, compared to a circuit changing a corner.  Imagine if someone died, or if someone does, people would look back and say well if they just would have changed a couple of corners for safety reasons in Austria the sport would not be under such scrutiny.  Nobody needs to die for the benefit of the home viewer and their expectations.

You are both absolutely right.  about VR. And Zarco. When you look at the on-board footage from Rins bike you can see how Zarco is way too optimistic on his speed and the way he suddenly changes line and pops in front of Morbidelli. And Rins confirmed it.

I wonder: if the two bikes had not collided does anybody think that Zarco wouldn't have ended up against the fences? I don't think he was going to be able to turn.  he was way too fast and heading straight to the fence. And that's where the problem with Zarco is: each time he is involved in an accident one can reasonably question if that was a smart and necessary move at that precise moment. During Sunday race did anyone else tried to pull that manœuvre there? To my knowledge nobody did. There must be a reason... Yes I think that last year MM 93 and Dovi did, but it was at the end of the race (not lap 9) and they are both at another level.... There is a difference between wanting something and having the skills to and brain to achieve it. 


I don't think the skills are in doubt but the brain might be. If there is something that JZ did that I would consider reckless (in the world of motorcycle racing where Rainey/Schwantz battles in Superbike, Trans-Atlantic Match & GP are considered legendary and what many consider the ultimate example of the "sport") is what I'm going to assume he didn't do and that is use the practice sessions wisely. When you want to try new lines, new possible overtaking spots, new braking points, etc. typically you want to give them try before it's actual race time, no? That certainly was my philosophy.  

If we assume that when he passed Franco, that was the first time he passed a bike at speed, at that point on the circuit, not knowing what the draft effect would be, how much understeer he'd get, etc. then yeah, that's reckless in my book... but again, assumptions. 

I do think that JZ would have made the corner w/o the collision. Though I agree that the bike was likely understeering wide after taking that shallow apex (as Crafar alluded to) but there were others regularly taking that kink even wider then his tragectory, one of the Aprilias especially, so there was grip out there.

You guys are having a lot of fun. Great to listen in on the banter.

" tell Ducati that he's not going to be staying with them next year and then to go out and win the race on Sunday, I mean that's a pretty epic middle finger that he's, ah, showing to the Ducati bosses so, uh yeah, fair play Dovi."

Could not have said it any better, myself. Well done, Mr. Morrison. For a guy to be held in such high regard among his peers, to not have a ride for next year in motogp (as of right now to the beswt of our knowledge) only creates more intrigue.

Thanks a bunch you guys.