Dorna has decided to include the “Sprint” race as early as the 2023 MotoGP season, immediately in all the rounds of the world championship, creating many perplexities. It is a short race that will be run on Saturday, to “push” on the show. In 2023 there will therefore be 42 races, with a very busy weekend programme.
In this regard, we interviewed Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati’s sporting director. Here are his words.
What was Ducati’s first impression when they offered you this novelty?
“For some time we had been discussing novelties in the format for the race weekend to make it more attractive both for the track and television audiences and in the summer we were informed of the idea of the Sprint Race to liven up the Saturday program and to give more space on Sunday morning for activities involving the pilots. We considered the willingness to do something that would meet the needs of television and the public to be positive, even if we pointed out some critical issues and points to discuss with the riders, teams and manufacturers”
Formula 1 has also introduced the Sprint Race, but only in a third of the Grands Prix. MotoGP, on the other hand, in all of them: isn’t it risky?
“We will only see him next year. In principle, like all changes to a format that had stabilized and crystallized over the years, there is a tendency to see the critical issues more than the advantages. From Ducati’s point of view, we have welcomed the idea of technicalities, apart from the practical and solvable problems. One of the possible concerns is for some circuits that are particularly demanding from a physical point of view for the drivers, such as Austin, for which considerations have also been given to a possible reduction in the laps of the Sunday race. As always, this type of novelty upsets the habits of teams and riders, but let’s not forget that in SBK they do 3 races a weekend. It seems to me a manageable change, with maybe some adjustments after the first grands prix”.
The Superbikes participate in 3 races, but their calendar consists of only 13 dates, that of the MotoGP of 21. Are you not worried about this additional stress for riders and teams?
“Of course Superbike has 13 rounds, so we’re still talking about 39 races, against the 42 we’ll have: not a big difference. We believe it will be a challenge for everyone, but also that it is worth tackling it to help the championship increase its attractiveness”.
Is MotoGP therefore going in the right direction in your opinion or do you also have other ideas?
“If we had had them, we would have discussed them with Dorna. The Sprint Race, together with the desire to bring the riders closer to the spectators, I think are decisions that go in the right direction. I repeat, as with all new developments, it will be necessary to assess whether there will be critical issues, and if I am sure countermeasures will be taken to manage them. Formula 1 has taught us that having drivers more available on Sunday morning towards the media, spectators and guests is positive. We will need to change our mentality a bit: we are always very focused on the race; not that in F1 they are less so but, and yet as Bagnaia experienced firsthand at Monza, the drivers are available before the race, which is less usual here. We will have to take a step forward and find the right balance between the various needs”.
From a piloting point of view, will the ability to be consistent be rewarded at the expense of pure performance?
“We will need to be fast and consistent, and I think the riders who manage to be fast from the first laps will have an advantage, because they will adapt better to a race that lasts half the distance. It will be interesting and there will be those who will interpret this novelty better and who worse, it will be a further challenge. I hope it will be a reason of further interest for the media and viewers”.
Will there be a turnover within the teams?
“The calendar also allows for breaks, in the months of May and July, so you can catch your breath. I also know that there will be some tough hat-tricks, so we’ll need to know how to manage the intensity of some moments in the championship well. We are talking about 21 Grands Prix, which were already scheduled this year before the cancellation of the Finnish one: there are many, but it is important that new countries such as India and Kazakhstan appear and the championship becomes more and more international. Not to mention only the positives, it is clear that we are in a moment in which traveling has become particularly expensive and this will have an impact on the budget of the teams, also because I don’t think the situation is destined to improve anytime soon.”
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