MotoGP is preparing to begin the European phase of the season which, as per tradition, will start from Jerez de la Frontera. Historical circuit, which everyone knows very well, but which should not be taken lightly because it can contain many pitfalls. Especially if you expect a weekend with more summer than spring temperatures, as the head of Michelin, Piero Taramasso, anticipated.
“In Jerez we expect a very hot weekend, but not with the 60 degrees on the asphalt that we had three years ago, when the Grand Prix was held in July, when it resumed after the lockdown. In this case, we expect about fifty degrees on the track and in any case it is a circuit that we know well as Michelin and the teams, because they often go to do tests.It is a fairly symmetrical track in terms of the level of stress on the tires and the rubber that can be put the front is more in difficulty,” Taramasso told Motorsport.com.
In light of this, what choices have you made for the Spanish GP?
“As regards the rear, we stayed on the same specifications as last year, confirming the soft and medium. These are two asymmetrical solutions, with a slightly harder compound on the right side.”
I guess the biggest changes concern the front so…
“We opted for three symmetrical solutions, but we confirmed only one compared to 2022: last year they all raced with the hard, so we kept it, but in this case it will be used as medium. As soft, we will instead adopt the new compound that we introduced this year and we have already used in Argentina and Austin as a medium.Finally, we will bring a third harder solution, by virtue of the fact that the loads are always greater on the front, and it is the compound that usually we take to Barcelona and Sepang, on tracks that require great efforts combined with high temperatures. I think that with these solutions we should easily cover all possible conditions”.
Piero Taramasso, Michelin
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
What sort of choices can we expect at the rear for the Sprint?
“Most of the riders had used the medium last year, so I think it could be a valid solution for both the race and the Sprint. I think the softs will use them above all for time attacks and maybe in the morning sessions. when the temperature should be a little lower. We’re talking about a tire that didn’t give us any wear problems last year, but over distance it warmed up a lot and generated stability problems if the perfect setting hadn’t been found. That’s why that I think that in the race and in the Sprint they will still opt for the medium”.
There will also be a collective test day on Monday, should we expect something from the Michelin side?
“We will not propose any new solutions or solutions under development. The riders will have the same tires as the Grand Prix available to try the evolutions associated with their bikes”.
Taking a step back, what indications did you draw from the Grand Prix of the Americas?
“Austin proved to be a difficult track, especially due to the potholes and the level of grip on the track, which is quite low. The weather conditions, however, were rather stable and this helped us. In the end, the choices were immediately clear , with the hard front and the soft rear which were the most suitable for the circumstances and the circuit: in fact, all the riders opted for this combination both in the Sprint and in Sunday’s race.The Sprint was good, with four different bikes in the last year’s record had already been broken in qualifying and also in the races the times were much better: just think that the Sunday race was about 14″ faster than in 2022, a really high pace. The front tire suffered a little on the right side, with some riders having a little scratch, but we know it’s a demanding circuit from this point of view. The rear, even though they all used the soft, was very constant, with a very low level of wear, which allowed the riders to maintain a high pace until the end”.
In the long race, however, we saw many retirements…
“There were a lot of crashes, but I think they were due to the high pace and the track conditions. I think Miller explained the situation very well, saying that the asphalt grip level is so low that it is practically impossible to resume situation after losing control of the bike, even if you do the right maneuver. I think it’s the most correct analysis”.
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
After the race, there were also those who underlined that the bike’s performance has improved but the tires are still the same. Do you think this is something that should be taken into consideration?
“Not for me, because if they manage to go so fast it’s also thanks to the tyres, which offer grip and allow power to be transmitted. Finding the limit and trying to control it, however, is a rider’s job. We could make tires that they offer even more grip, but in the end there is always a limit beyond which you cannot go”.
After the Sprint, however, Franco Morbidelli had called for help with the front tyre, emphasizing that when you’re in a group it overheats and this increases the pressure. Have you had a chance to talk to him about it?
“After his comments, we went to see the data and it’s very strange, because the tires hadn’t overheated and the pressures had never reached exaggerated levels. The values corresponded to the average of all the others, so his sensations must have depend on some other factor. We also talked about it with his technical chief and we explained to him that we did not find any alerts. Among other things, no other rider complained about this thing, both after the Sprint and after the race Sunday”.
For the future, however, a new front tire should be on the way, right?
“It’s true that the front tire has been the same model for 7 years. We’ve evolved the compounds, but we’ve reached the limit of development with this tire and we can’t do anything to improve this situation. In these 7 years, the bikes have changed a lot , now there is more load on the front between the aerodynamics, the devices and the much more powerful brakes.For this reason we are working to propose a new tyre, which is based on a specification that the teams had already tested in 2019, before of COVID, during the Misano tests. 15 of the 17 riders who had evaluated it had found it good, but then the arrival of COVID prevented us from continuing development. We restarted from that base and have already tested the first prototypes. If all goes according to plan, we will take it in September precisely for the Misano test with the official riders. In the meantime, the testers will be able to test it during the private tests, so we are already at a good point, but it is a tire that will have to be validated also on other tracks and this will be done in 2024”.