MotoGP 2023: New season and many questions

Startaufstellung MotoGP Sachsenring

Portimao – Portugal. Red light. Roaring engines. Highly concentrated MotoGP riders. Tense MotoGP fans in the stands. All eyes are on the riders on the grid. The eyes of the riders are eagerly looking at the traffic lights. The light goes out. The engines roar to life. The 2023 MotoGP season starts.

In four weeks, the new MotoGP season begins. A season which will bring many innovations with it. New tracks in Kazakhstan and India have been added. A total of 21 stops will be made in the new season and 42 MotoGP races will be held (sprint races included). With the new sprint races, not only the classification changes, but also the entire schedule has been revised. For Moto3 and Moto2, the warm-up on Sunday will be omitted. The MotoGP riders will be able to score their first points on Saturday afternoon. The season opener will be held in Portimao. The mountain and valley track in the Algarve replaces the usual floodlit start in Qatar. There will also be a technical innovation. The installation of a standardized measuring device is intended to ensure compliance with the minimum tire pressure specified by Michelin. In case of violation, the teams and drivers will face a penalty.

Many changes and still many question marks.
How will the drivers and teams deal with the additional burden of the sprint races? Who will pay for the extra expense? This is being argued behind the scenes. Dorna sees the teams as having a duty to pay their riders for the sprint races. The teams, in turn, see Dorna as bearing the costs. After all, it was Dorna that got the sprint races off the ground, without consulting the riders and teams. As is well known, they were only informed shortly before the public announcement that sprint races would be held in 2023. So why should the teams pay for this idea? A legitimate question and a ticking time bomb that needs to be defused before the start of the season. Because in the worst case scenario, there’s the threat of a strike among the drivers.

One change raised question marks in the last test in Sepang. Michelin has always recommended a minimum tire pressure. Only up to now it was a recommendation. Now, however, there are to be penalties if the drivers and teams do not adhere to these specifications. This is an understandable approach, as the correct tire pressure can be decisive for the race. Unfortunately, Michelin tires are very sensitive to temperature, so there can be considerable fluctuations depending on external influences – whether a driver has a clear run or not. Selecting the right pressure before the start of the race so that you don’t end up falling short of the specifications or making the bike uncontrollable seems almost impossible. Almost all riders have now spoken out against this change. There is to be a penalty-free transition period for the first three races of the season. What will happen after that, no one knows. A question mark to be solved.

Wait a minute, didn’t I forget a question mark? That’s right. Who will secure the MotoGP title in 2023? Unfortunately, the last test in Sepang was not very informative. The conditions were very mixed. A trend emerged that looked similar to the 2022 season – there was hardly any getting past the Ducati riders. They set the tone. Only Aprilia was able to keep up. All the other factories were behind them. In just under two weeks, the last test before the start of the season will take place. This will set the trend for the season.

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