2016 Sachsenring Sunday Round Up - Of Intermediates vs Slicks, Gambling Right, and the Evils of Radio

It was a wild and weird weekend at the Sachsenring. The second in a row, after the bizarre and thrilling two-part race at Assen three weeks ago. The weather proved to be decisive, favoring the brave and the smart. And, perhaps, the lucky, but luck is always a part of racing. Sometimes the conditions come to you, and when they do, you have to capitalize.

That is precisely what happened in the MotoGP race at the Sachsenring – and in the Moto3 race as well, come to think of it. For motorcycle racing's big guns, they started on a soaking wet track with a light drizzle falling, but by the halfway mark, the first hints of a dry line were starting to form. That line would start to grow over the next few laps, and then it came down to two judgment calls: when to come in and swap bikes, and whether to gamble on slicks, or play it safe with intermediates.

Bike swaps are governed by circumstances as well as choice. Windows of opportunity open quickly, but they are often overlooked. The information the riders have to base their decision on is limited to what the team can convey via the pit board, and what they can glean from the jumbotron screens that line the circuit. They find themselves locked in battle with other riders, something which can easily devolve into a game of chicken. Unlike the game of chicken, though, it isn't the rider who blinks last who wins. It's the rider who blinks at exactly the right time.

Unnecessary complications

As for tires, the addition of the intermediate tire has been both a blessing and a curse. Introduced at the request of Dorna, to encourage riders to go out during half-wet, half-dry conditions, to help fill otherwise dead air, the intermediate tire has become a viable race tire. That has presented teams with something of a dilemma: they now have to try to second guess the weather, and judge whether a drying track will dry fast enough for slicks to be safe, or stay damp enough for the intermediate tire to be the better choice.

There is, of course, a simple way around this dilemma. "For our team, the intermediate doesn’t exist," Marc Márquez explained at the press conference at the Sachsenring. "We go from wet to dry." That removes a lot of confusion from the communication, and from the minds of the team and Márquez. "How do I tell the team, I want intermediate or I want slick?" That could be solved by allowing two-way communication between riders and teams, but more of that later.

Change tires, change feeling

The bigger issue for Márquez is that he has not tested the intermediates a great deal, and has little information about them. That is a bigger deal than you might think: Pol Espargaro had never tried the intermediates before, and crashed out while he had a golden opportunity to take a podium. Scott Redding missed out on a podium because he lost so much time in the first few laps trying to comprehend how the intermediates behaved.

Even Bradley Smith had been surprised by the difference in feel, and he has used the intermediates several times before. "It's amazing how you go from the wets to the slicks, and the profile is completely different, the bike feels 100kg heavier. It no longer turns into the corner, so it's a really odd feeling to the opening laps," he explained. "It's worthwhile trying to train that, because we're getting more of these types of races."

This, perhaps, is where the genius of Marc Márquez won him the race. "I take a lot of risk because the dry line was very, very tight," he said at the press conference. "But I manage well these first three laps and then when I saw that I was faster already than the wet tires I say okay, now it takes time and I will arrive." The ability to ride at the very limit for several laps without crashing is what allowed him to survive those first laps on slicks, when the track was not perfect, and what gave him the win.

Forcing your hand?

But luck, or something like it, helped Márquez too. He briefly ran in too hot to Turn 8, and had to gas it through the gravel to get back on track. That set him thinking about the right time to pit as the track started to dry. A few laps later, it was time, and once the slicks got up to temperature, he started to fly.

Perhaps it was not so much the gravel excursion as his plummet through the field which helped make up his mind. Starting on pole, but having chosen the extra soft front wet which Michelin had brought when the weather forecast turned cold and wet, Márquez was losing ground almost every lap. By lap 13, he had settled in eighth position, but was going backwards. On a drying track, he had nothing left to lose.

This was the point where he won the race. Though he lost 24 seconds in the pit, he was faster than the leaders on his first full lap out of the pits, lap 19. A lap later, he was 4 seconds faster, then 6 seconds faster, then 7 seconds faster, then 7 seconds faster again. In the space of four laps, he had made up the time he had lost in the pits and was back up to sixth. He was 10 seconds behind the leading group, and closing fast.

Follow the leaders

That was the point the leading group decided to pit. Danilo Petrucci had crashed out after an incredible display of wet weather riding in the early laps, leaving Andrea Dovizioso in the lead. As the track started to dry, Dovizioso's lead started to shrink, and Valentino Rossi, Hector Barbera, and Cal Crutchlow closed on the Ducati. Fresh from his maiden win at Assen, Jack Miller had been with the front group from the start as well, while Crutchlow had gotten a terrible start, going slow to warm the harder front wet up, but had sliced through the field to join the leaders.

The way the leaders made their decision to pit stood in stark contrast to Márquez. Their teams had been signaling frantically to pit for a couple of laps, but the blind uphill crest before the start of pit lane made it hard for the riders to see the pit boards, especially for the teams in garages at the beginning of the straight, like Crutchlow and Miller. But the group was so caught up in their own battle, and their own game of bike swap chicken, that they really entered too late.

"I honestly didn’t look at my pit board. I just followed the two guys in front of me which were Dovi and Vale," Cal Crutchlow said in the press conference. "I knew they have the experience to be at the front in MotoGP and I just followed them." Rossi believed that he had little to gain by pitting earlier. "For sure, about the strategy, I can stop two or three laps earlier, but it doesn't change a lot. I think that if I change earlier, I can arrive in sixth place, but I entered the pit together with Crutchlow and Dovi."

For Rossi, the bigger problem was the tires. He had no feeling with the intermediates in the first laps out of the pits, and lost ten seconds feeling his way around. He had chosen the intermediates in a meeting with his team, after their experience with the slicks on Friday. In the cold and damp then, the slicks had been terrifying, not giving any grip or feedback. The intermediates seemed like the right choice during the meeting. But practice turned out to be very different from theory.

From wet to dry

The pit stops became the turning point of the race. Scott Redding had pitted early and swapped to intermediates, and was soon reeling in the leaders. He could not follow the pace of Márquez, but he took over second position when the leaders went into the pits. He looked comfortable in second, but Andrea Dovizioso was fast arriving, with Cal Crutchlow hot on the Ducati's tail.

It was clear that Crutchlow was the fastest of the group. As the laps wound down, Crutchlow passed Dovizioso and started hounding Redding, pouncing with a brilliant pass round the outside into Turn 1 on the final lap. "We were side-by-side going into the braking area and I had an intermediate. He had a slick. He was going to win," Redding said. He had accepted there was nothing he could do about Crutchlow, but losing a podium to Dovizioso was a bitter pill to swallow. The Italian simply had more speed down the hill before Turn 12 to set up a clean pass on Redding, and there was nothing Redding could do about it.

Honda vs the rest

So where did the speed of the Hondas come from? Perhaps there was an ideal performance window for the tires to come to the riders on the RC213Vs. The Hondas stress the front tire more than most other bikes on the grid. Crutchlow's crew chief, Christophe 'Beefy' Bourguignon, told Neil Morrison, "We always use a harder front tyre than other people and probably we generate more heat. This is a disadvantage in normal conditions but I would say also that when Marc and Cal go for it, they go for it. They can ride on the limit and they have the talent to do those things. The conditions also suited their riding style at this race track."

The Honda is short and tall, meaning the bike pitches forward much further under braking, stressing the front tire. This meant the front slick would come up to temperature much quicker despite the cool and damp conditions. Other bikes, especially the Yamaha and the Ducati, are longer and lower, and use less weight transfer in braking. This means they don't get the heat in the tire the way the Hondas do.

The Yamahas and Ducatis were condemned to use the intermediates, which in the conditions were a second or more slower than the Honda on slicks. The bitter irony for the Yamahas, especially, is that they probably would not have been faster on slicks than they were on intermediates. Conditions came together just right.

Half the information

After the race, there was some controversy over whether Márquez' bike was in neutral during the bike change. A new rule change forbids teams from having the second bike in gear when the rider swaps to it, something Márquez and his team had been doing, as it saved them a few precious milliseconds. However, when Márquez came in to the pits, his mechanic was holding the clutch of his second bike, causing the internet to explode with conspiracies.

Myself, Peter McLaren and Neil Morrison from Crash.net all went to ask Race Director Mike Webb about the incident. Mike Webb told us they had seen the incident, and sent Technical Director Danny Aldridge down to the Repsol Honda garage to check the data from the second bike. That, Webb told us, showed clearly that first gear was engaged a fraction of a second before Márquez rode away. That could only have been done by Márquez.

Later that evening more proof arrived in the form of a video. Twitter user Hans-Uwe Wiedemann posted a video on his Twitter feed, showing conclusively that it was Márquez who engaged first gear. The Spaniard's foot visibly moves just before the bike pulls out of the garage.

It would be foolish to think that Márquez would have gained any advantage from having his bike already in gear, however. It may have gained him a few hundredths of a second in the pits. If he hadn't slowed dramatically on the final lap to celebrate, the Spaniard would have won by a margin of nearly twenty seconds.

Pencil his name on the trophy

Márquez' victory puts him in very firm control of the championship. He now leads Jorge Lorenzo by 48 points, and Valentino Rossi by 59 points. Neither Movistar Yamaha rider has the championship in his own hands any more. It is enough for Márquez to finish second at the remaining nine races, and he would still be champion even if Lorenzo won them all.

It has been a dark few weeks for the Movistar Yamaha team. Since Rossi's victory in Barcelona, the Italian made a mistake at Assen, crashing out of the restarted race, then couldn't get the tires to work at the Sachsenring. He pitted too late – though it is easy to say that with hindsight, and the comfort of an armchair – and it potentially cost him 16 seconds, which would put him right in the podium battle. Now he is 59 points behind Márquez, that deficit built up almost entirely in races where he himself made a mistake.

As for Jorge Lorenzo, the reigning world champion has scored 7 points in the last three races. Being knocked off in Barcelona was entirely the fault of Andrea Iannone, though Lorenzo was going backwards at the time. Then a poor performance at Assen saw him squeak home in tenth. In Germany, he was even worse, scoring a single, solitary point by finishing in 15th.

What ails Lorenzo? Mainly tires, especially in the wet, but sometimes also in the dry. The Spaniard needs to feel feedback from the front tire to be able to exploit his incredible ability to carry more corner speed than just about any other rider on the grid. But the tires Michelin have brought recently have not given him the confidence he has been looking for.

It is not so much a lack of confidence in the wet, Lorenzo insists. It is very much a factor of the Michelins not giving him the feedback he needs. "With the Michelin tires in these conditions, change a lot the feeling you had with the Bridgestone when it was raining. I could fight sometimes for the win, sometimes I could fight for the fifth place [with the Bridgestones]. But now with this bike and these tires and these conditions I still am much, much worse." What that means for the next race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria remains to be seen. We know very little about the track, other than that MotoGP will be testing there on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There were plenty of other remarkable performances at the Sachsenring. Hector Barbera showed in the first half of the race that his front row start had not been a fluke. Barbera suffered after the bike swap, but showed clear signs of some real speed. Jack Miller, once again, shone in the rain, but found it tougher once the surface started drying. The Suzukis, so fast on the Friday, were nowhere on race day. The cause? A lack of rear grip, both in wet and dry.

Why radios must remain banned

As seems to happen regularly after flag-to-flag races, especially when someone gets it very right, and others get it very wrong, the discussion was raised – by journalists – of allowing radio communication. Valentino Rossi was in favor. "For sure now if we have the communication direct with the box can be a lot more easy," the Italian said. "Sometimes with the board is difficult, for example if you take Assen, if they say to me that I have already two seconds of advantage I have just to slow down and I can avoid the mistakes. So if it’s possible have a radio, I don’t know why we don’t have."

Marc Márquez disagreed. "This is not cars," he said. "I cannot imagine there on full lean at 200 per hour somebody speaking." It wasn't necessary. "If you have a good plan before the race, you know. If you are with it for meetings before the race. In our case everything was clear. In our team we work a lot on these situations after 2013 in Australia."

Speaking personally, I believe that having radios would be a terrible idea for MotoGP. Once teams have the ability to communicate strategy, they will start to take control of the riders, and feed them with information and demands. Riders will stop riding naturally, and start obeying orders, doing as their teams tell them. It is an entirely understandable attitude from teams, as they have the most invested. But in my opinion, motorcycle racing is first and foremost about the rider, and their ability to manage situations.

The current situation allows riders to gamble and to make mistakes. That, too, is part of motorcycle racing. And at the moment, the championship is being led by the rider who has made the least mistakes. That is exactly as it should be.


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Total votes: 153
Total votes: 142

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Comments

Great Article David !

About the Radios - Yes , unless the teams  agree when/which part to engage communication whilst racing on Circuit ,  it'd be quite a shock to hear  -  PIT NEXT LAP - heading into / coming down the WaterFall :|

Thanks

Total votes: 109

if he isn't setting up a rain riding school as i write this, he's leaving a lot of cash on the table...

Total votes: 121

Why not allow messages to be sent to the rider's dash? Limit what can be said to avoid coaching and excessive direction from the team, but allow vital communications to reach the pilot.

Total votes: 130

I think that when Lorenzo returns after the summer break, the last two races will be erased from his memory, and we'll see the strong second half we've come to expect. Too little, too late, perhaps, but that's why they line up on Sunday (to paraphrase Hayden). 

Rossi's had a rough go of late, but I continue to be astounded by his ability to adapt and find speed. 

Marquez? Well, he's Marquez. Only smarter now. 

It's going to be a long break!

Total votes: 141

Not sure I agree w your assessment that radios will bring the end to great racing. In fact, that's a horrible reason to keep radios banned. For the spectacle of the sport? Safety must come first and I think there's a good argument there. Teams would be able to communicate tire type and compound so that riders don't go out on unknown tires guessing what's underneath them. Riders could also relay back information about track conditions to select the appropriate tire. Safety. Marquez's excuse that talking is too much for a rider is laughable. He could be collecting Pikachus down the Mugello straight and still have enough skill and talent to make  San Donato. Marquez doesn't want radios because so far it has given him an advantage. Same for Rossi. This shouldn't be up to the teams or riders rather technical direction on the grounds of safety. We've already lost one rider let's not look back and think what could've been done when radio communication could play a role in saving a rider's life.  

Total votes: 186

I do not know where you get that from. And saying any of the riders who passed away in recent years would have been alive if they had radio contact with the pits is completely redlculous. Unneccessary painful even.

Total votes: 151

And you think radios will make racing more dangerous? I guess Dennis Noyes and VR don't know what he's talking about either...

I never said not having radios has led to a racing death rather it COULD POSSIBLY lead to a racer's demise. Flags and pit boards aren't detailed enough for today's racing. Bike's have evolved technologically why can't communications?

Total votes: 125

I race cars and bikes.  The rule is with my team in the car, only chime in when you have something mission critical to tell me.  of course, on a bike, the opportunity doesn't exist.  I would never wear a headset in my helmet on a bike.  it takes all of my human focus and computing power to ride properly and not throw it down the track.  I certainly don't need someone hitting the speaker button, sending a radio crackle through my brain in mid corner and throw my concentration off to tell me a compeitor just switched to intermediates.   THere is so much zen-like concentration that needs to happen to race a bike safely, that I can't see how a radio would ever aid in that safety.  

Total votes: 121

I agree with Marc, two way communication sounds dangerous but why they don't have pit board info displayed for the rider on the bike I can't understand.

With the amount of data we can see live on screen coming from many of the bikes, some controlled amount of data could be sent/recieved, even if it only displayed/allowed on the main straight or prior to the pit entrance. And would it not make the pit lane safer if the rider could tell the mechanics went he is coming in to the pits.

It would need the 'keep it simple' principles applied.

Total votes: 108

Agree that radio communication with the crew should not be part of bike racing for all the reasons mentioned. Cannot remember Rossi arguing for them before these last 2 races.

The only use I could see would be for officials to signal Black flag and ride through penalties and then it would only be a sound rather than talking. That way there is no excuse for missing the pit board.

As for the clutch in at bike change - it makes sense in case the rider bumps the gear lever getting on plus saves them having to reach for the lever.

Total votes: 109

Anyone who claims (and complains) anything about MM93 is not a motoGP fan. Not only he is the fastest, he starts to show now he's also the smartest. Period.

Total votes: 159

I'd say for this race also the luckiest although the tyre choice wets or slicks is in part something to be called smart. Than again, as David explains it, it seems to suit the Honda's much better than the Ducati and Yamaha, eventually making the choice much easier.

Total votes: 116

I have to agree that Marc Márquez is definitely the smartest rider.

Not only that, he is constantly busy with innovations that soon after that anybody copies, e.g. the way he jumps from one bike to another. MM was the first and now everyone is practicing this. He is constantly making improvements on and off the track. His crash during WUP was a VERY big one, yet immediately after arriving at the pit he got back on the other bike. He and his team fully deserves every championship point he took so far. Pedrosa got the same package, but is nowhere in comparison.

Rossi had better listened to his team when they called him in. Having said that, from my humble club level racing career I remember how very difficult it is to see a pit signal when you are flat out. If you've never experienced this, it's probably hard to understand. Still, I agree that F1 style radio is not a good idea.  

Anyway, Rossi made a second mistake in a row. He just can't afford that with MM93 around. Still, I hope he will win some more GP's in the second half of the season and give MM93 (and Lorenzo) a very hard time on the track (and not off the track, please).

 

Total votes: 121

gbyrnes95  says it well - I can see how an official radio channel could benefit safety, but definitely no link between rider and team. MotoGP is one of the last pure motorsports we have, do not ever let it go the way of F1...

Total votes: 117

Half the reason I can't stand watching F1 anymore is listening to the constant whinging over the radio. Board messages would easily convey all the info a rider needs, ie.

'BOX' = we're ready for you.

'BOX!!' = you're losing a lot of time, seriously think about coming in.

 

Total votes: 140

I said it after the last time Rossi rode around for too long on wets, and I'll say it again: these riders are too experienced to be making these sort of silly mistakes.  When the team tell you to pit, you pit.  The team has access to data and video from the whole track, and they can see the times of other riders who have already changed.  The riders don't need radio, they just need to pay attention to their pit boards and trust that their team knows what's best.

Total votes: 117

well i personally want to see radio include coaching applied for motoGP races, it's give a chance a riders skills to be more refined,

even if the paddock give particular "coaching" order i.e "cover him, slow him down and take the 3rd podium spot" or "mark him, block his exit",  it doesn't mean it's easy to applied, that's why i said it's give chance riders skill to be more refined because competition level go higher

it's only gives disadvantage towards some smart riders, who adept with tactical battle, i.e rossi, because the radio system meaning to cut their skills, but no need to be smart on that bike, the "freak of nature" on motogp race is to be faster on technical/raw speed like the example stoner, lorenzo and MM , not to be smart in dogfight like VR, just leave the dogfight part to team, and let riders requirement to be only "exceptional fast", let the team guide you on dogfight and positioning part, and just match the guidances, that is the exact skill which required

you can't win all, even VR is "jack of all trades" type rider, not super-fast but sure have enough speed and the rest up to his skill to cover his rival in dogfight game, but if radio system applied, that advantage could be reduced for sure, that's my personal opinion

Total votes: 123

David. As always. I agree on the no radio policy but like many other posters I think that some essential info on the dashboard could help. If Dovi or Crutchlow had known MM speed on slick maybe they would have pitted earlier. Expecially Cal given he knew he had the potential there to make a difference. I think it's not too complicated to display that short data on the dashboard.
About the race (I know this is gonna get me in trouble with some of the readers here) I think many exaggerates both the compliments to MM and the critics to VR.
I want to stress that MM rode brilliantly. Nevertheless he had no other choice, there is no "smarter than thou" strategy implemented by him and the team. Not only slicks were their only choice but that is what worked best for him. Cold track/ slicks the perfect combination for Honda on this track. And there is some luck factor too : the trip into the gravel and disappearing in the back of the race with the rain tires made his decision probably the easiest to make. So no IMO this was not a display of pure strategic genius. Then yes he rode well careful in the first laps and then speeding up like no tomorrow. But again this was precisely the track condition he liked and suited his bike. He was in the conditions he liked with nothing to lose: that's enough to give you a lot of confidence and make a difference between binning it and riding to the edge without falling.
VR: I'm amazed at the amount of ink (!?) Wasted even on this site to judge him and shame him.... without even considering the situation. Which you explained: there wasn't much he could have done: the cold track plus the slick did not work on the M1. End of the story. Plus he as admitted it himself he's not very good in the bike swap. But to just use this unfortunate chain of negative events to demonstrate that he either lost it or he's too full of himself or that he's not up to.the task as many suggest - even on this forum- I find it proof of little judgement and lots of bias. This year VR is fast everywhere and riding at his best. He deserves better consideration
Last but not least: I guess that with the summer break there will be time to address the big elephant in the room.... Lorenzo performance. Is it just a short moment of weakness? Is the thought of going to Ducati becoming a burden rather than a liberation?(given Ducati performances) or there is more? Maybe are we seeing the real JL with all his limitations when things are just not perfectly aligned as he wants them?
On a different note, today is the day I'm becoming a site supporter.

Total votes: 148

Pretty accurate. Personally I don't think VR had a choice. Slicks weren't going to be competative for him on a cold track, so staying on the wets and maintaining the status quo were the only option.

MM was lucky, lucky the conditions suited Honda, but just as lucky his poor wet tire choice meant he dropped down the order. Out of sight, out of mind. He was able to run his own race and not until he got heat in the slicks did his advantage materialise. If he was running the lead group, you could bet others would have followed him in.

JL indeed has problems. But having Jack Miller pass VR shows the extent of the issue Yamaha faced. A couple of hot sticky races may see MM struggle to 5th.

Total votes: 123

'staying on the wets and maintaining the status quo were the only option.'

How stupid of his pit crew to ask him to come in then ;)

Total votes: 129

I don't think anyone is 'judging or shaming' Rossi. Many think that he made a mistake by not pitting earlier, the data supports this, as did the reactions of his own mechanics when he kept on riding past the pits. However watching from lounge room or even the pit garage is not the same as making the decision on the bike.
At the end of the day races like that are a bit of a lottery, and this time Marquez it right, Rossi didn't.

Total votes: 121

I am not shaming him, but criticism for sure. He blew it and I think knows better, and his crew did know better. I know it is tough when on the bike, it is hard to even see pitboards. Still disappointed that he is making things so hard for himself.

Total votes: 96

What would everyone be saying if Marquez had put a slick off line and disappeared into the gravel amidst shards of orange fairing.

He was good enough not to do so but their stategy was high risk.

Those staying out on wets longer and coming back on intermediates reduced the risk, and as it turned out the reward.

Total votes: 114

If MM had crashed on the slicks the conversation might be more along the lines that once again VR made a shrewd decision and took more points off both MM and JL than he could have expected to at the start of the weekend.

Or if he'd come in earlier and binned it himself, that he'd, well, switched too early.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

The reality is that only the rider knows how it's feeling in those conditions, and how confident he is that he can stay upright on inters or slicks, whatever the pit crew think. I for one thought MM was crazy to go to slicks while so much of the track looked still wet. But there are plenty of instances where VR (or JL, DP etc etc) has made the apparently better decision.

So while it was disappointing for a VR fan to see such a poor outcome and probably the end of his title fight for this year, for me it was just one of those days when riders have to hit and hope, and some get lucky, some don't.

Total votes: 111

Marquez timed it to perfection and has the insane skills to warm up these slicks on a dry line that is hardly there. If JL or VR could have pulled that off, I don't know. I do know that with JL it would have been 'luck' and with VR it would have been 'genius'...

Total votes: 113

"But to just use this unfortunate chain of negative events to demonstrate that he either lost it or he's too full of himself or that he's not up to the task as many suggest"

You are trying to make comments look bad that aren't even there. Rossi rode a bad race and lost. Marquez rode a brilliant race and won. Period.

Total votes: 132

Mgm, I feel "pointed" on the "exaggeration" on MM93 wink

To be honest, I agree with most of what you say, but the truth is that saying (at least meaning) that the combination "slicks+cold temperature was their only option" yes it was, but also the fact he saved an almost sure crash and that 2 laps later he decided to swap the bikes, not because of that exit, because he was sure he could manage those slicks on those conditions. And he did it like no one there (Baz did the same move and finished... where?),  watching his ride on those conditions for me, it was a brilliant and very smart move, same as Button usually makes on F1 in mixed conditions: it is rider's brain who decides that, and that is smart, really smart (for me, at least).

Now on the critics on VR: no matter when VR would have pitted (even same lap than MM93) his "only option" was intermediate (he admitted he was not happy with the slicks in cold) would it have changed the results on MM93 win? I do not think so... much less if it was a dry race, (let's not forget the 0,5 secs MM93 did on QP2 to VR.) But maybe if he had pitted earlier, he would have saved some vital points to the championship finishing in podium or 4th or so,  and he has nobody to blame on that but him: He made a big mistake by not following the instructions on their box. And this comes after another big mistake in Assen and that's why maybe the "critics" are more "harsh" against VR, because I do not remember him making two mistakes in a row in all his career, in fact, until last weekend, every time VR had crashed in a previous GP, he had won the following one.

And on JL... I read a twitter of Dennis Noyes saying: "When you have a big crash, maybe your body does not remember it, but your brain does, and it could be for one week, one month, or years..." Remember Assen two years ago? I think he did a huge mistake running back to track that same weekend. Also, he admits he has 0 confidence on Michelin's front tyre on mixed, cold or wet conditions... no, he does not need things to be "perfect" (thats Dani lol) he is just lacking confidence to this new tyres.

Total votes: 118

If there were any doubts remaining that Marquez has fully absorbed the lessons of his challenging 2015 season, this race should put them to rest. In 2013 and 2014, "just ride faster" had been sufficiently sophisticated  strategy to deliver Marc his first two titles. 2015 showed him that the risks found at the bleeding edge can overwhelm even supernaturally gifted riders, and that some races--and certainly many championship seasons--demand that you salvage as many points as conditions will allow.

I honestly think pre-2015 Marquez would have been unlikely to finish the race, let alone win it. Falling back in the ranks, with the likes of Barbera and Miller overtaking him, I can easily see the Marquez of old panicking, overriding the bike, and quickly sliding off track. He had to win this one as much with his head as with his wrist. The fact that he's learned to do that is a very foreboding sign for the riders that share the grid with him. 

Total votes: 132

I don't understand how the communications medium transfers ownership of decisions from the rider to the teams.  I mean, today, if the team puts BOX on the pit board, what prevents them from being in charge?  They could say "you WILL return to pit or your fired".   

To be clear, I think radios are a horrible idea (just as I feel they have been for cycling as well).  But, I think that the issue is not one of who is in charge but that the "thinking" moves from the rider to the teams.   I still, in this scenario, see the rider as the final arbiter of any decision - but now he'd be able to tap into whatever brain trust the team has setup.  I think that would be a loss as you know who's going to have the the biggest brain trusts.  This is one of the key reasons I no longer watch F1 and have largely stopped watching cycling. 

What I'd like to see in cycling is that race direction has a one-way secure communication to all riders to alert them of issues;  but that it is never used for race tactics.   My understanding of MotoGP is that race direction has this capability via the rider's dashboard?   If so, let's leave well enough alone and enjoy.

Total votes: 120

Although I would prefer to not see radios in cycling as, besides other issues, it would make the management of break aways far more interesting, it's not practical simply because the race will be televised, it unfolds over a longer period of time, and you can have people at the side of the road relaying the current situation which would even more favour those teams with the most money.

None of that applies to motorbike racing, no one could shout loud enough.  I like the lack of radios but don't see a problem with either dash messages with limited information or allowing the relaying of that information via radios but only as they pass their garage, effectively replacing the pit boards with a more efficient system.

(Hmmmm.  Perhaps fan clubs with an app to tell them what side to hold up based on their positino could be conscripted to produce messages in 'pixelated' boards over an entire stadium)

Total votes: 103

Why are we discussing radios? Absolutely no indication whatsoever that they are being considered. Of all the things to take from this weekend the very little talk about radios is the least interesting.

What's more interesting is that now Marquez has a huge gap to his rivals. Considering how he's been riding this year it looks very unlikely he's going to give that lead away. Of course this season has been so topsy turvy, one more fall out of nowhere like Le Mans and it's all fair game again, especially if Lorenzo is going on a tear again like last year.

Total votes: 108

I don't think the video feed is of the race, there were more people in pitlane... and when MM93 rejoined the track he did so before AI29... in this video the pitboard of Crazy Joe is being put out just as MM93 accelerates.

Does not matter one bit for the outcome of the race, and it hadn't even crossed my mind that such a minor thing would make a difference in a flag-to-flag race. But since you're putting it out there :D

Total votes: 104

Radios? Bring em on... Funny how the riders in the press conference made it seem like they had some control over the tires that were on the bike when they swapped. And why, oh why, didn't one of them say jokingly, "I told my team via hand signals which tire to mount."...

Total votes: 105

Someone talking in your ear during a race sounds terrible, and that's just based on my limited club racing experience.  I wouldn't want anyone sqawking at me just riding a GSXR 1000 around Road Atlanta.  Imagine trying to wrangle a fire-breathing MotoGP bike with jibber jabber coming in your ear.  What if it malfuctioned and you heard constant static or you got some feedback in your ear?  Like someone said earlier, bikes are not cars.

The idea of communication onto the dash would be more feasible to me because the rider would be in control of when to look.  In-race text messages.  160 character limit.  2 texts per race. 

 

Total votes: 112

When I was one of those who led the charge against intrusive electronics, we were called luddites by many journalists who claimed traction control was vital to safety. 

There have not been less crashes nor less injuries due to traction control. In fact many crashes have been the direct result of TC malfunctions. But the nerd police keep that quiet. 

Now the same folks, for the most part, who defended the removal of throttle control from the riders´right wrist are saying that audio information and the ability to ask for clarification or to make a request should be denied to riders because radios allow manipulation from beyond the helmet. I will refrain from calling those I disagree with luddites, but if all manner of electrickery is allowed (and it still is...the factories are figuring out the "control ECUs"), then why should a rider not be informed that while he is creeping around at great risk on wets at 1.35, another rider on slicks is taking ten seconds a lap?  There were crew chiefs hopping mad in pit lane trying to figure out how to call their boy in. (They were shown on TV in attitudes of frustration.)

Does anyone really think it is safer to try and read a complicated message on the tablero or on the pitboard at speed than it is to understand a verbal message..."Marc is on slicks and lapping ten seconds faster that you. Get your butt in here." And would it be a crime for a rider to request intermediates and be told, "Iannone is on intermediates and lapping 4 seconds slower than the guys on slicks?

I will gladly renounce radios (they ARE coming eventually) if the TC is removed and the engineers obliged to build engines that have linear power delivery (and only as much power as a human can handle). But the luddite in me wants at least to let the rider have the kind of info that a 19th Century invention can afford.

And just to set the record straight, I talked about it with Wayne Rainey about those tests with radios back in ´92. The three-time 500cc Champion said, "We never had a problem with the radio. We just couldn´t get Kenny Roberts to stop talking." 

The guys who tested this stuff 10, 15 and 25 years ago were using equipment that has been made obsolete. I used some Motorola kit in Daytona in 2006 that was bitching. But I got my channels crossed and my son, flying round the banking on a Ducati, heard me asking our signal board guys who wanted coffee and he said, at a very high speed, "Dad, shut the f*ck up!"  I heard it perfectely. About that time David ordered black coffee. Kenny still remembers that....David wanted black coffee. 

So, like most things, the tech is not the problem. I do understand the rage against the radio...but it is way, way too late now to stop the invasion of the nerds. They are here to stay. So let's at least let the riders order the tires they want fitted...and, maybe, coffee.  It was NASCAR legend Dick Trickle who famously radioed for two tires and a black coffee. He got all three. Spilled a little coffee, but he made a quick pit stop. 

 

 

 

Total votes: 145

Dick Trickle also drilled a hole in the chin bar of his helmet, so he could smoke while racing...

 

Total votes: 110

Agreed. Though you put it much more eloquently. I said basically the same but get persecuted. What up with that? 

Total votes: 117

Dennis... "There have not been less crashes nor less injuries due to traction control"

Highsides... ended Mick Dohan's career amongst many others... I can't actually remember the last one in MotoGP since they sorted out (ie "developed") TC. There was JL's spectacular practice spill where he forgot that he hadn't triggered the system & came off but that's about it... JL in Leguna Seca in 2013? they used to be a weekly occurrence. Still get them in the lower classes but with a lot less power of course... still one of the worst things that can happen to you on a bike without hitting anyone or anything else.

No less crashes?... well virtually every race we see someone out of their seat landing back & carrying on... almost everyone would have been a high-side in old money.

Nope... I respectfully disagree with you in this instance.

Total votes: 115

Why not just add button on the dash that sends a signal to the riders box for tire selection.
1 button labeled WET, another INT     it can't get any easier than that

Total votes: 111

Great idea! But of course two buttons won't do it. You'd need one each for soft option wet, hard option wet, intermediate, soft option slick and hard option slick. So that's five buttons. Plus maybe one for coffee. Not sure you'd need buttons for milk and sugar, but I'm open to other opinions because, you know, there's not enough buttons on a GP bike.

Total votes: 123

I had not even noticed the controversy over Marquez being in gear, even though it turned out he was not.  Race Strategy in this race along with superior riding by Marquez won the day.  I was surprised that Rossi did not pit earlier, and judging by his crew's reaction, so were they to put it mildly.  Good to Crutchlow up there on the podium.  Cecchinello looked like he was about to have a Stroke, Nervous Breakdown, and heart attack if Crutchlow crashed out.  The owner of the team could not even watch.  LOL!  

Total votes: 118

F1 gets worse every race with the argueing over what's allowed to be said to the driver!  Motorcycle racing is and always will be about the rider.  No matter how many times I said for the cameras, "I want to thank my team for all their hard work..."  once I swung a leg over the bike my destiny was my own for good or bad!  When the green flag drops, the BS stops, and it's rider again rider not team against team.

Total votes: 107

I think they should be allowed radios in the practice sessions, but not qualifying or the race. Radio in practice would allow the teams to make changes faster in motogp. Maximising their time on track, it would also give a great insight into what they are working on with the bike. Given the 1 bike policy in moto3 and moto2 it may be useful there to allowing the teams time to prepare exactly what needs to be done prior to pit entry.

Some form or dash board COMMS would be useful for race control to have. If implimented then you could pass a regulation saying the same channel could be used once by a team per race with a message, controlled by the race direction, and public so we can get an idea of whats happening (no code).

An old boss of mine used to say "Luck is just preperation meeting timing!" This GP for MM93 was just that!

Total votes: 104

I'm with David on this issue. The telecoms will add another variable in mixed conditions that will inevitably degrade MGP to F1 level. The sport needs a few years of technological stagnation to make it truly competitive for all with the best rider being the supreme benefactor. Of course IT and media corporates will have an opposing view, but their job is to push the limit in terms of self interest profiteering and individual endeavour and tallent be buggered.

Rossi would welcome it, Marquez opposes it and with good reason.

Marquez is clearly the best out there and was last year too, period. Rossi is currently a semi-evergreen tree in the autumn of his years as a racer, grasping at any techno innovation that can stave off the inevitable demise. His record, longevity, contribution to the sport will live on forever and he may even get his 10th title this year.

Thing is, like Marquez now, Rossi back then was the master of the clutchand, twistgrip, front break lever and never advocated for techno aids. Now he does. Tyres were never a big issue for him back then as Michelin ensured he was armed with overnight specials on many a weekend, courtesy of...you guessed it!!!..data gleaned and capitilized on prior to the race. Radio transmission to rider will just be another assimilation of information benefitting those who can most afford it within the course of the race.

Lorenzo...well! I guess he should spend the break at Kenny's ranch to get his head re-calibrated prior to the 2nd half of season and especially prior to slinging a leg over the desmo.

I do enjoy the diabolical weather races as it generally enables the hard wired racer's to compete on a level playing field with their software counterparts.

 

Total votes: 121

This is what I was trying to post as a reply
To XabiGaraiko
No "pointing " really : )
I see your points and in part agree. And it's always good to have different opinions. I stick to mine. And not gonna bore you with repeating what I wrote.
Just one quick clarification though on Lorenzo: I entirely agree that given what he went through in the past in Assen I for one would not expect him to shine there. And since then he is not comfortable in damp/wet conditions. And its not fair to blame him. It might take him still a long time to fully recover from that. In fact my comment it's not about JL performance in a specific condition on a very specific track. My remark is more about his performances in general : 3 races ago in a nice sunny track when Iannone hit him he was going backwards. And in Jerez he was lost. And last year too: whenever the tire did not suit him 200% he was not very competitive. So my point is : they are all on the same tires and they find a way around them. He does not seem to. And Ducati just bet 25 millions on him.....so is it just a bad psychological moment ? Or a skill limitation that he is unable to overcome? I'm sure David will write something soon about it.

Total votes: 100

He came into the pits, his bike a slowly growing fireball, he switched to his second bike and road down pit lane but he was then listed as out of the race a few minutes later. Did something happen on track or was he black flagged ? 

Total votes: 113

I do think that the riders are lacking a lot of technological implementations that they're already carrying around...

What I mean is that riders already have a full digital display in front of them. They can see speed, rpm, all kinds of warning lights, lap times and so on. I do not understand that they don't get info relayed to them via the dash about flags. They already carry a variety of camera's on their bikes. Why does a rider have to look over his shoulder instead of pushing a button and be able to look behind on his display to get an idea of the situation behind him in a much safer way?
Communication with pits could be done via the dash too. The type of messages can even be controlled by race direction and it would allow a rider to choose tires before pitting or letting a team know that they should box.

The pit boards should be a thing of the past... they're flying by at speeds in excess of 300km/h, picking up all the info in a flash after trying to pick out their own pit board between the others. In bad weather conditions, being in the spray of another bike or a fogged up vizor doesn't help it either. Similarly, flashing lights for flag situations are much more visible than someone standing at the side of the track waving a flag that might not stand out between the bright colours of all the fans and advertising around the tracks.

I would never be in favour of radio communication though because it interfere's with the concentration of the rider, likely going to cause accidents and it allows for easy abuse and unfair play. The bike already plays a huge role in the final outcome of the race. Don't let the team direction take away more from the rider and have their say in the outcome.

Total votes: 104

I agree with most people here, radios shouldn't be used but I think the dash and other lighting communications would be an advantage for safety and ease of communication. They would also be pretty easy to implement.

Example, in Australian superbike racing they trialed yellow LED flashing lights on the inside of corners where the riders are looking in addition to using yellow flags. They were on the ground shaped pretty flat, looking a little bit like a kerb. It would not be that expensive to implement and potentially be put in the control of race direction instead of purely rely on corner marshals. I also reckon that bright LEDs near the dash that light up for yellow flags would be able to be localised to the corners.  The technology is certainly out there.

Even if the dashes don't show text, pretty sure a specific coloured light on the dash can be activated by the teams on pit straight to communicate a basic command like PIT NOW!  You know, slow flashing for "it is ideal to pit", to fast flashing for "everyone is going faster than, you pit now you silly git..."

Total votes: 113

Different note -
Anyone else amused/charmed/curious when Crutchlow passed Redding on the outside entering a right (great battle!) and he (semi-voluntary?) did a kicking motion with his right foot just before he planted it on the peg for turn in? Almost a counter-Iannone's ghost twitch.

Also when Rins went down, notice his bike do an unusual pirouette?

Just bits and ends from the re-watch. Cheers

Total votes: 113

wouldn't discreet ship to shore communication devices be a drop in the bucket?  And how in the world would Dorna/FIM police this?  Which is to say how do we know less scrupulous teams aren't already using radio and just getting away with it?  If I ran a MotoGP team, this would fall into the category of low hanging fruit when it comes to risk/reward of cheating.  I'd do it.

And, as a fan, I could really care less.  Sideline-to-quarterback communication didn't ruin the NFL, and most fans probably have no idea it even happens.  Dorna wouldn't have to broadcast the radio chatter like they do with F1.  Let's put it this way: In terms of electronic rider aids you could ban or not, banning inertial measurement units or throttle by wire would have a WAY bigger impact on the spectacle/safety/etc. than the ban on radio has had.

I also think the safety concerns about radio communication are a bit exaggerated.  These guys can make a pass while braking from 320 Kph at the end of the front straight, rear wheel off the ground, and calmly adjust their brake lever reach at the same time.  I think they can handle a little blurb in their ear every once in a while.

Total votes: 98

Not sure what the rules would have to say about this but given only 3 choice of tires it would be easy for a rider to signal his crew which tires he wants mounted on the second bike. First gesture for front tire, second hand gesture for rear. Next lap when he pits it should be setup as requested. 

Total votes: 105