Silverstone MotoGP Subscriber Notes: The Difference 3 Weeks Makes In Summer, Winning Races As Slowly As Possible, And Quick Thoughts On The Championship

In the week or so before a MotoGP race, crew chiefs and engineers pull up the data from the last race at that circuit and start work on a plan for the weekend. They then compare that to the tire allocation Michelin are bringing to the race, and try to get a jump on the game of figuring out which tires are going to work best. Motorcycle racing is a puzzle composed of many parts, and with just four sessions of free practice (three of which are partially lost to the pursuit of a direct passage to Q2), any pieces you can put in place beforehand can give you a jump on your rivals.

So crew chiefs and engineers pore over data, examine how tires performed, and decide what is likely to work and what probably won't. They make tentative choices about possible race tires, and draw up plans for practice accordingly: an attempt at a long run in FP2, a long run in FP4, and the option to revisit those choices during warm up on Sunday.

This system works because usually, MotoGP visits each circuit at pretty much the same time every year. Teams visit a circuit with a very good idea of what the conditions are going to be like, bar the arrival of rain. Track temperatures – in which solar radiation is a big factor, as well as air temperatures – determine to a large extent which tire is going to work, and which will struggle with the temperatures.

Time shift

The teams did much the same as they approached Silverstone. But for the 2022 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, there was an extra confounding factor. The race had been moved three weeks earlier than previous editions, from the end of August to the first weekend of the month. This year, the race was held on August 7th, last year it was on August 29th.

Three weeks in summer should not make all that much difference, you would think. But the days begin to shorten with alarming rapidity as August winds down. On August 7th of this year, the sun rose at 5:34 AM at Silverstone, setting again 15 hours and 9 minutes later, at 20:43. On August 29th 2021, the sun came up at 6:11 AM and set at 19:57, 13 hours and 46 minutes later. That is fully 83 minutes less daylight: a lot less time for the sun to heat up the tarmac, and a lot more night in which to radiate away the heat absorbed during the day.

That difference expressed itself in temperatures too. The 2021 race at Silverstone had been sunny, but not exactly warm, with an air temperature of 17°C. It was sunny in 2022 as well, but it was also a good deal warmer, with a measured air temperature of 22°C. The difference in track temperatures was even bigger: 24°C in 2021 vs 43° in 2022, 19°C hotter.

Why all this focus on the date of the race? Because the difference meant the plans which the teams had drawn up ahead of the Silverstone race had to go out of the window once they arrived. Last year, the vast majority of the field raced with the medium rear, and a handful with the soft.

Led astray

That made the medium the most likely candidate for the race going into 2022, but conditions determined otherwise. Of the 24 riders who lined up on the grid, 14 started with the hard rear instead of the medium. Nine of those riders would finish inside the top ten, the only exception Fabio Quartararo, who ended up eighth. What a difference 3 weeks makes.

In these subscriber notes, how the hard rear became the tire of choice for the Silverstone race, and how it turned Pecco Bagnaia's fortunes around. How that, and the timing of Fabio Quartararo's Long Lap penalty turned the MotoGP championship back into a three-way fight. And a few quick thoughts on how the race played out.

But first, Pecco Bagnaia's improbable win. On Saturday evening, the Ducati Lenovo rider looked to be in trouble. He was fast over a single lap – not exceptional, but good enough for fifth on the grid – but his race pace looked pretty poor. He was missing rear grip, he told us after qualifying on Saturday. "I don’t feel very well on my bike at this moment. I’m losing a lot of time compared to other Ducatis in some sections of the track. We’re still missing 2 tenths from the front group, to be able to win the race."

Bagnaia dropped a hint that his team had already figured out where they had gone wrong. "We already know what to do, so this is a great thing," he said.

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year: 
2022
round_number: 
12

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Comments

First, as one who questioned the wisdom of Aprilia's resigning of MV, I can only acknowledge my own ignorance and agree that it is really pleasing to see his redemption. (There is a lot of wisdom in the MotoGP cloud, even as proven by the original promotion of Fabio from Moto2). Lesson accepted. The Morbidelli thing is inexplicable - understandable that Fabio is more successful as he maybe one of the greats but that does not explain the gap between them. And only 2 years ago they were in very close quarters. And while it was nice to see Jack podium his concession that he had made a wrong call with a too soft on the front did at least leave me with one face saving told ya for the weekend. Jack seems to make the too-soft choice, what, every three races?

Finally what a great track. I hear the debate about aero coming forward again but isn't the lesson that a great track like Assen, Silverstone or Phillip Island obscure a lot of other problems in the direction of the specs and standards?

I'm a little bit confused by Fabio's comments. The rear tyre was bad because he was behind other riders ? Or they just chose the wrong tyre ? After taking his penalty Fabio reeled off 12 laps, fastest was a 0.028 and the slowest was 0.785 which was the last lap of those 12. Peco produced a very similar performance but a tenth or two quicker (fastest 59.975, slowest 0.609). The medium rear died in the last 4 or 5 laps, the hard less so. Fabio finished only 3.8 seconds off the win and was top medium rear bike. Maybe the tyre was not so bad for Fabio, Brad too for that matter. Seems all the medium rear users felt a big tyre drop earlier than their lap times accepted it. If the traffic was a factor for Fabio then I doubt the hard rear would have helped him get any higher than 6th, it would have maybe stopped him losing a couple of places to 8th in the last 5 laps.

A small defence of Maverick's hesitant passing. The passes he did make (when compared to some others in the race) were well placed, smooth, didn't waste any tyre with heroics and didn't risk an extra DNF on the sheet. Not very exciting but Vinales was just a lap short. If he had got into 2nd a lap earlier...never can be known but he very nearly got it spot on. I think he lost the race when Martin passed him on lap 15, caught napping, cost him a lap and that produced the gap which left him too much to do too late. Two podiums do not make a completely new Mav but it's good to see nonetheless.

Great opening salvo with that time shift analysis DE. Bravo.

Some good insights from you too WaveyD. Fabio's comments have always been a bit vague and confusing when it comes to riding in traffic. He blames the overheating tyres for not being able to progress, but also likes to throw Yamaha under the bus for not having the power to overtake, which was a relentless theme until he found his groove back in the EU early season.

As for Mav - it looks like he has made some strides forward with managing the fresh tyres/full fuel load, though the contact with Fabio off the line didn't give us a real look at what he might be capable of. The Martin overtake sealed the deal but he really did have some late race pace as is tradition.

Great race. Great track. Silverstone always gets me fired up for the trip down to PI.

The tyre talk reminds me of Jerez 2016. The rear was in trouble on race day, spinning up everywhere, lap times nearly a second slower than Saturday. Lorenzo spooked, Rossi walks away into the distance. Lorenzo spinning on the straights, Rossi controlling the spin yet both sets dropped on the same lap by the same amount. They lasted fine, it was just different track conditions. The feeling changed, what was required changed, one rider was less willing to accept it.

I was there for that one. I remember Rossi saying he actually switched the TC off! Sounds incredible but he said it gave him better control on the rear. He didn't win easily but was over the line first on every lap - Jorge managed one overtake soon retaken. TBH it was a dull race but showed an old hand on top form!

I found myself considering the possibility of a reluctance to pass during the race also.  If I recall, Lorenzo would face criticism like this sometimes - an inability to be aggressive, more specifically.  I think he proved that wrong a several occasions, though, especially once things started clicking on the Ducati.  Back to Maverick, I do wonder about his aggression.  Is he too friendly...when Aleix is in front, will he attack as he should despite owing his ride to him?  Finally, it's too bad to see his race starts continue to push him backwards, again, calling into question (for me) his lack of aggression...or fear?  I'm not the one putting my life on the line to race so easy for me to say...

Overall, I'm happy to see him getting results.  He could do more.  

I think his race start and early laps were more than respectable considering the hole shot device wasn’t engaged. Do we know if that was a “tech” issue, or a “rider error” issue? 

Maverick is nowhere near aggressive enough to go toe to toe with a Marquez type and I would put Martin in the same(ish) category as Marc. Pecco on occasion has shown similar traits. They assert themselves and take whatever inch of the track they are given with authority. This is one of Marc's key abilities imho. No one wants to get into an elbow battle with him because he will never yield. He doesn't need the media to do his psychological battling for him, he does it on track.

Back when it was Stoner/Lorenzo/Pedrosa on the podium every meet during the 800's it was a very gentlemanly affair to the point where Lorenzo said that he found this overtake by Casey at Laguna 2011 a bit "too much" if not outright "unsafe" - and it's still one of the best passes I've ever witnessed

https://youtu.be/ELwpShNQ2I4

Then Marc arrived and he has never had any hesitation of pulling similar moves. Rossi said that Marc ruined the sport and has no respect for his competitors but his results speak for themselves. He seems immune to the noise.

Fabio, Pecco and whoever else wants to join the party up front will have to start sharpening their elbows otherwise I see Marc adding another chip or two before he's done. Who wants it more?

I have heard several riders in the past talk about how Rossi would lose very little time when passing. He may have had the bike to pass immediately but would wait, lose a tenth, then pass in a place and in a way which would cost next to nothing. Net result +0.2s instead of the immediate pass which would have cost +1.0 etc. Of course this is also the same Rossi who five minutes later would pass crossed up endo near disaster and cost both riders +2.0s plus a small heart attack. All about context I think. Marc is very good at all versions, legacy, beta and all between. Vinales did look a bit 'shall I shan't I' into Stowe, maybe a lack of confidence ? He did drop his lap times whenever he passed someone or needed to bridge a gap. He never really lost any time to the leader sitting behind other riders. However, he did lose time being passed or being close to other passes. His lap 6 attempted move on Fabio cost a lot because it let Martin into the fight. Overall whenever he did pass he ended the lap closer to the leader. Martin says he had the pace for the win, usually Martin ended a pass further from the leader.

Should also add...How would the image be today if Maverick had dropped it ? Maybe on the wider picture discretion was the better part of valour. Can you imagine if 'mad Mav' had taken out Fabio or Peco. Even if he had just dropped it on his own the noise would have been high. Very possibly he could have should have done better but...he did very well regardless.

The momentum he's carrying is exciting.  I think we'd all benefit as fans to have Mav a consistent podium finisher every weekend.  We have yet to get a real Fabio vs Marc season, and no one else (IMHO) is panning out to be a consistent threat to Fabio while Marc's away.  

Yes, maybe he could have gone Toprak, but the guy finished 3rd and then 2nd after being in the wilderness for a good, long time. There's always a risk in being too tentative and throwing it down the road that way, too--but he did have a go at Pecco, didn't he? 

One more thing to make this season compelling to watch.

That said, riders that want to be champions need to plan on a healthy MM being on the podium every race next season...so best to be putting the bunny slippers away and getting some steel toes. 

 

Hi there,

Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, there was an entire sentence missing with the sunrise and sunset times for 2021. It's been inserted now...

riders taking turns at being fastest on track in a 500cc or MotoGP race. When I was doing commentary, I used to keep track of this kind of data and usually the fastest rider lap-by-lap was one of three or four leaders, but I have been observing that now there are usually anywhere from 8 to 10 riders who, on a given lap, are the fastest on track. One thing that does stand out: Ducati bikes were fastest 11 times out of twenty...and European bikes fastest on all but Rins's lap 4.

I really hope I don't get carried away to try and run this kind of data analysis on the last ten or twenty years, but if anyone else wants to, I'd love to see the outcome. I'll bet nothing like this shows up over the 2019 season.

And Marc just keeps sending tweets and reminding us that he is out there lurking...and coming to Red Bull Ring with his scary music in the background.

Fastest rider lap-by-lap

1. Zarco DUCATI

2. Miller. DUCATI

3. Zarco  DUCATI

4. Rins  SUZUKI

5. Martin  DUCATI

6. B. Binder  KTM

7. Martin  DUCATI

8. Bagnaia  DUCATI

9. Viñales  APRILIA

10. Viñales  APRILIA

11. Viñales  APRILIA

12. Bastianinni DUCATI

13. Bastianinni DUCATI

14. Basyianinni  DUCATI

15. Bastianinni  DUCATI

16. Oliveira  KTM

17.Viñales  APRILIA

18.Viñales  APRILIA

19.Viñales APRILIA

20. Bagnaia  DUCATI

The one thing I did notice was a lack of consistency across the field relative to many other races. If we ignore the last 5 laps because of the tyre drop most of the names in that list have lap times varying by around a second, that's pretty big, the length of the track contributing to this I think. It was not just a downward trend but up and down regardless of battling or not. Bastianini only varied by 0.6. I did notice this weekend that small mistakes were made on most laps when entering turns like Copse and Stowe which left the big heavy bikes with no option but to sit and wait a little while longer before getting back on it. That's the lack of consistency I think.

My guess is to look at Phillip Island 2017 for a similar number of fastest riders. I think the lap times will vary less but there was a lot of battles going on yet a large group stayed together. Ok, I'll check....

Not so hot, PI 2017 only had 7 fastest riders for all laps. Pretty obvious when and who pulled the pin and won. The results analysis by lap seem to share the same format as far back at 2002. If...big if..I'm bored enough maybe I can makes something to answer your question.

Lap Rider Lap Rider Lap Rider
1 Miller 10 Miller 19 Vinales
2 Zarco 11 Zarco 20 Marquez
3 Rossi 12 Rins 21 Rossi
4 Zarco 13 Rossi 22 Zarco
5 Rins 14 Vinales 23 Marquez
6 Ianonne 15 Marquez 24 Marquez
7 Zarco 16 Vinales 25 Marquez
8 Zarco 17 Ianonne 26 Marquez
9 Rins 18 Marquez 27 Vinales

Having only ever put four wheels to use around Silverstone it is certainly one of the more challenging UK circuits to lap consistently. Even in a car, the track is wide, flat and featureless. It’s utterly frustrating attempting to position yourself for corner entry consistently and there are so many lines you could adopt, but it keeps you wanting one more lap because every corner you exit, you feel you could have gone through quicker.

Thanks! Basto fastest four laps in a row. And doesn't this just sum up Maverick's career--fastest lap six times, and all basically in the 2nd half of the race.

The camping alone at Silverstone was 192 quid plus 140 esch for a half decent view. We did Donington BSB and WSB and Brands Hatch BSB all with camping with change left over for the STP Summer Nationals at the Pod. No contest

That'll need to be revisited before next year surely. If Marc's recovery goes to plan they'll be able to play that wildcard which will help.

170 quid will get you planted at Phillip Island Turn 12 this year and tickets didn't fly off the shelf either. Similar price point all the way round and I've got the fam in the Doohan Grandstand/Southern Loop this year. It's been T12 for me for 15yrs so I'm keen on the change on race day. For less than 1100 quid total (about $1800 aud) we've got 3x up there front row and 3x full access 3 day paddock passes. Compared to other years that's crumbs really, especially paddock access. It's not quite like freebies in Ducati/HRC pits 2010/11 but I wasn't expecting that price point and am FAR from disappointed. Just don't tell the organisers.

For reference, camping with a pre pitched tent, 4 days and GA access all weekend is about the same price point as the grandstand. 

Aside, but have you connected with Steve "Apical" yet D9s? Neat gracious guy, lives somewhere down yonder, and going. Gave me an invite to stay in a sweet place there. Quite the guy.

Ah you're such a gentleman, Shrink. I just flicked you an email and you best check the spam folder because I'm well known for it ;)

In no particular order:

1. Cost - I think the price was pinned this year, but it's still high and inflation / energy price worries aren't helping

2. View - it's mostly car-oriented, with a vast distance between spectators and the track

3. Rossi - that's probably half the loss

4. British rider - there isn't one in MotoGP

They missed out on my usual two tickets this year. I'll spend it on BSB instead - very close racing with some hungry young guns this year.

I bought 3 day hospitality tickets at Turn 4 (formerly Honda Corner) on the day they went on sale for A$1500 each and they were sold out within a couple of hours. Same price as 2019 if I recall correctly. Not cheap but worth the investment for comfort, food and drink and great spectating.

 

That's a great spot Rusty, nice score. The tent will be a welcome hidey-hole at times for sure! Does it include the shared paddock passes or did you fork out the extra $330'ish for your own? No interest?

Includes Pit Walks but not Paddock Passes. I would have bought a one day Paddock Pass if they were available but I didn't really want a 3 day pass at $330. I have made several trips to PI including the first great race won by Wayne Gardner in 1987 and Casey's last win there. Wonderful circuit.

Re PI tickets. It would have been me first time. I wanted to ride down from the blue mountains over several days taking back roads and camp but the prices scared me away. Camping, paddock pass and general admission or similar would have been more than 1200🙄. On top of it I wasn't sure where the best spots would be. I have now settled on going for SBK in November. Much, much less money. And the top three, four riders charge equally hard. 

I've taken to being a marshal at PI - removes the ticket price, but with the slight disadvantage of having to turn up at about 6 am each morning. And I like being, in a small way, part of the event rather than just watching it. I was too late for my budget accommodation for MotoGP this year, so I'll be doing WSBK instead.

No marshalls, no racing; people should remember that. We're in a dire situation that way here in Canada, unfortunately. Moto GP racing has more marshalls per corner than we often have around an entire track.

Good day to you daddyrat I'm planning on heading down for the supers as well. Send me a message if you like. Will be riding from S.E. NSW and staying at a mate's place in Cowes.

MotoGp is definitely worth a visit. SBK is better in some ways, we can take the bikes in, ride around the outfield from one viewing spot to another.