An infernal heat, unusual for the Sachsenring. These are the conditions that MotoGP had to deal with last weekend for the German Grand Prix. Usually in these parts it is difficult to get the tires up to temperature in the morning sessions, but this time the riders found themselves facing a race that some have defined as “almost endurance”, in which tire management has become a fundamental aspect.
And yet we witnessed a weekend in which Pecco Bagnaia smashed the track record and then Fabio Quartararo won by mounting the medium tire on the rear. All more than positive indications for Michelin, which also had to face some small inconvenience, but nothing too significant, as the manager Piero Taramasso explained to us.
“Already from FP1 we understood that it would be a difficult weekend, even if the grip on the track was not bad, considering that they run very little at Sachsenring. They have a regulation linked to noise that requires them to run a maximum of 25-30 days a year. Even if the grip was higher than expected, it was evident that there was little tire on the ground. In fact, from session to session, the times improved a lot. Not by a second, but almost, despite the fact that from the first day they had already established the new circuit record, ”Taramasso told Motorsport.com.
On Saturday we saw monstrous times to say the least: Bagnaia set the new record in 1’19 “765, against the previous record of Marc Marquez which was 1’20” 195 …
“In FP3, as many as five riders managed to lap in 1’19” and Quartararo also did not drop below 1’20 “only because he had a problem with his helmet. And all this despite the very high temperatures, for di more on one of the most demanding circuits in the whole championship for tires “.
Did such high temperatures require a particular effort from the teams and drivers?
“Since the beginning of the year we have seen a certain tendency to overheat the front more than the rear and I must say that both the riders and the teams have worked really well, both in terms of aerodynamics and wheel solutions, precisely for try not to stress the tires too much and to cool them down.For example, the lighter rims, which are made with a different treatment, help keep temperatures between 5 and 7 degrees lower, so it is already a trick that helps. But many have also modified the mudguard and the covers, so that the rubber could breathe a little more, despite the fact that the air itself was already at 40 degrees. This effort, however, was essential to make a good run ” .
We saw practically unique choices towards a pair of hard tires, but in the end the one who risked the most like Quartararo won …
“Most of the riders chose the hard front and rear, which was a solution that had performed well all weekend. But there were also different choices, like Fabio’s, who won with the average. at the rear. However it was not a gamble, because there were no problems in terms of wear. Many chose the hard because it gave the bike more stability, but they knew that in the first laps they would pay something compared to the average, which offered more grip, but then it would have had to be managed a bit in the final part “.
Quartararo’s management of the tire seemed truly masterful, also because behind him there was a specialist in the field such as Johann Zarco, who, however, dropped more to the distance despite having the hard …
“Fabio had a great race and managed the tires very well, as he had already done in Barcelona in fairly similar conditions, with very high temperatures and little grip. To the point that in the final he managed to increase his gap, a sign that he had still enough rubber. The problem with the hard was that, if in practice they managed to get it up to temperature in two laps, in the race it took four or five to reach the optimum potential of the rear grip “.
Piero Taramasso, Michelin
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
In the race we also witnessed the strange fall of Pecco Bagnaia, who lost his rear and then spun a kind of spin. A dynamic not exactly typical of MotoGP. He had hard rubber, do you think what you told us a little while ago could have affected?
“It could also be, because many have told us that to feel the maximum potential of the hard rear it took several laps. It may be that it was not yet at its best, also because the right side is the most critical at Sachsenring, given that there are only three corners, but it is the rider who has to feel it and has to manage it. So it can be there, but I think it was a combination of factors. I must say, however, that Pecco said to us that he had a good feeling with the tire, so I don’t think it’s an element in question, also because on the third lap, the one before the crash, he lapped in 1’21 “9, one of the fastest on the track. In theory, therefore, everything was working at its best. “
After the race, however, Aleix Espargaro complained that he had suffered from vibrations at the front. What can you tell us about it?
“For now it’s a bit of a mystery. Aleix told us that he felt these vibrations at the front, so after the race we checked the balance again and we didn’t find any problems on either the tire or the rim. We also asked the data from the Aprilia, as we always do in these cases, but you don’t see any vibration related to the rotation of the wheel. Those are the easiest to see, because the frequency is really related to the rotation. I must admit it’s a strange situation, so we will continue to investigate both us and Aprilia, but I am quite convinced that something else will come out. “
But Joan Mir had also talked about something similar earlier …
“Mir had complained about a vibration problem on Saturday, at the end of qualifying. We removed that same tire and reassembled it on another rim: he reused it in the Warm-Up and this vibration was gone, so in the his case seemed a problem related to the rim. To tell the truth, during the days of Friday and Saturday, several pilots said they had accused of vibrations, but observing the data we immediately found an explanation: it was a problem of chattering, with the front tire losing grip and starting to jump. But it is not something that depends on the tire, but on the behavior of the bike. In the data it is clear that it is chattering, because it has a different frequency than a vibration which can be tied to the tire or to the rim “.
On the other hand, they really liked the soft tire you brought to the Sachsenring. After signing pole position, for example, Bagnaia said he would always want it to do time attacks …
“Not only Pecco, other riders also told me the same thing. It was a very soft tire, which offers a lot of grip. But I think that for other tracks it would be too soft, also because we always try to bring solutions that can also be used. in the race. At the Sachsenring the temperatures were extreme, but there are also those who managed to race with the average. Maybe if there had been 15 or 20 degrees less on the asphalt, someone would have tried to run with the soft . But this solution would really risk being just a qualifying tire on other types of track, which you throw away after three laps. I must also say that there are also riders who have told us the opposite. For example, according to Aleix Espargaro, grip it was so much that he ended up pushing on the front, unbalancing the bike “.
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
This weekend is the last race before the summer break in Assen. What choices did you make for the Dutch Grand Prix?
“Last year’s race went very well. We had raced on new asphalt and, as we hadn’t had the chance to test before the GP, we had brought four specs to both the front and rear. For this year. we only confirmed three, eliminating in both cases the hardest one, which was the back-up one and had not been used by anyone. These are symmetrical solutions for the front and asymmetrical solutions for the rear. last the choice that went for the most was that of the medium at the front and the hard at the rear. The asphalt temperature was 38 degrees, but the grip was really very good. In fact there were also three riders who they had opted for the soft and five for the medium at the rear. Therefore, all three solutions had been used in the race and it was quite normal to confirm them. Besides, I think we are talking about tires suitable for any range of temperatures “.
What are the pitfalls of the track hosting the Dutch TT?
“Assen is a track that we know well, with many changes of direction at high speed, which tend to put stress above all the rear. There are a lot of acceleration, plus there are some fast corners where you don’t even brake but just go to remove the gas and in this way instead the front does not load too much. I have not yet seen the weather forecast, but I do not deny that I would not mind seeing a rainy day as well, because it is a track that offers excellent grip even with the wet asphalt “.
This weekend the MotoE will also be back on track …
“Actually there isn’t much to say. Assen is a track we had already raced on last year, so we have references. However, there will be the standard allocation for the 2022 season for the first time, so we are curious. to see how it will behave “.