There will be some MotoGP format and rule tweaks around qualifying and tyre pressures ahead of the second half of the MotoGP season
After repeated pleas from some riders, the Grand Prix Commission has agreed to some MotoGP format and rule tweaks ahead of the second half of the 2023 season, including a reduction of the number of sessions that count towards earning a spot in MotoGP’s second qualifying session (Q2). Sparked by a desire to reduce the intensity and risk required from teams and riders from the very first session of a race weekend, and therefore reducing the likelihood of crashes, any change needs unanimous agreement from all premier-class teams before it could be implemented.
Until now, the times set in both Friday’s 45-minute P1 and 60-minute P2 sessions would count towards determining the top 10 fastest riders eligible to progress into the second qualifying session (Q2). Riders who missed out were forced to battle it out in the opening qualifying session (Q1) with only the two quickest riders allowed to progress into Q2 to then qualify for the top 12 positions on the grid.
But from next weekend’s British Grand Prix onwards, Friday’s morning 45-minute practice session will now be renamed to Free Practice 1 (FP1) and will not count towards determining the all-important top-10. That will be left solely to Friday afternoon’s 60-minute session, now simply called Practice, while the 30-minute FP2 on Saturday morning remains a ‘free’ 30-minute session ahead of the two 15-minute Qualifying sessions and the MotoGP Sprint.
“We asked for this change,” factory Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro said. “It was more for safety to avoid the crashes in practice one, to be a little more relaxed and to just stress everybody [in the last] 15 minutes on practice two.”
AMCN understands it was Ducati who stood in the way of implementing the change earlier, with Aprilia’s outspoken rider outing the factory during a media debrief at the Dutch TT in Assen.
“All riders were pushing to change the Friday schedule, to make the practice one free, but it looks like Ducati does not agree. They vote against this,” he said. “It’s strange because their riders, believe me, were in favour to change that. But the bosses of Ducati don’t. I don’t understand why they need to vote. It’s a matter of safety and they didn’t respect the riders.”
The change to the schedule isn’t the only tweak to the MotoGP rulebook that will take effect at next weekend’s British Grand Prix; the control tyre-pressure monitoring system will also take effect which could see riders penalised if their tyre pressures fall under the minimum mandated by Michelin.
The unified system has been used by all premier-class teams during the first half of the 2023 season in a bid to familiarise themselves with how the pressures fluctuate in certain conditions and at certain tracks, and will now be susceptible to a scale of time penalties if it’s found that pressures have dropped below the required amount during either the Sprint or the full-length GP.
Riders will be issued with a warning for their first offence, a three-second time penalty for their second, a six-second time penalty for their third offence and 12-second time penalty for their fourth.
Once the time-penalty trial period ends, it’s expected the penalty will increase to a straight disqualification in the future to bring it in line with other technical infringements set out in the rulebook.