Times are tough in MotoGP if you haven’t noticed, and the penny-pinchers are in full-force both in the paddock and at Dorna Sports. Word has it that new rules are being discussed, and could be implemented in order to cut the costs of running a MotoGP team down. Continue reading for 3 of the major proposals on the table.
The most radical change suggested is to limit riders to a single bike per race, instead of the current two bikes they have. This would save both in costs of leasing the bikes, as well as mechanics to maintaing the bikes and spare parts. The biggest obstacle to this change would be the current flag-to-flag rules, which means that riders are allowed to switch machines if the weather conditions change during a wet race. With only a single bike, riders would be forced to switch wheels instead of bikes. This a bigger deal than it seems as more than just tires go into setting a bike up for dry conditions as opposed to wet conditions.
The one thing the teams would not have to worry about under the new rules is changing brakes. The proposals also include a ban on carbon brakes, which Fausto Gresini has lobbied for, claiming it would save him some 250,000 euros a year. The argument against carbon brakes is fairly solid, in that they are of no practical application outside racing, as carbon disks wear out too quickly and don’t work in the rain, making them impractical on the streets. This change is almost certain to go through, and may as a side benefit make the racing more exciting. Steel brakes take longer to stop a bike, and if braking distances are longer, then outbraking maneuvers are more likely to succeed.
The final proposal under discussion, is an extension of engine life. Under the new plan, engines would have to last for three race weekends before the engineers are allowed to change them. A minimum engine life has been in force for the past couple of years in Formula 1, and has spectacularly failed to reduce costs in that series. This would leave the manufacturers with one of two choices: either choose to reduce performance so that existing engines last longer, or they can radically redesign the engine using more expensive materials to make the engines last longer. It’s almost blindingly obvious which path the manufacturers will choose to go down.
Imposing longer engine life will save on engine rebuilds, which Honda’s old steel spring engines required every 300kms, while Ducati’s desmodromic engine needed very 700km or so, and this would be a big saving. The only question which remains is whether the extra development time and more expensive materials required to make the engines last longer will be less than the amount saved by the reduced maintenance requirements. The lesson from Formula 1 is that any savings achieved are likely to be minimal at best.
Source: MotoGP Matters