After the canceled practice session at Estoril, Casey Stoner spoke to the press during his regular media debrief. In that session, Stoner spoke about a number of issues, including electronics, fuel limits, Ducati's screamer vs. big bang engines, and the engine penalties. Here's what he had to say, in his own words:
Q: I spoke to Carmelo Ezpeleta yesterday, and I asked him about electronics, whether there was any plan to limit them, and he said that nobody has been complaining about electronics for the past six months, and he gave you as an example, that you turned your electronics right down, and there is nothing wrong with the current situation. What do you feel about the amount of electronics?
Casey Stoner: There's one thing that's going to stop everybody from putting any limits on them and that is that it's a lot safer with them. It stops those big old highsides and you know you can get the engine braking wrong coming a corner, it really helps with that. If you know people missing gears or whatever, if the engine frickin' goes, basically if anything happens with the engine, internally, my engine will shutdown, or go into safety mode, it goes duhduhduhduhduh. I haven't even enough power to hardly go along. So it's not just about what the electronics will do to save you from yourself, it saves you when something goes wrong with the engine.
So if it feels like the oil pressure is going down, this, that, anything; it'll just shutdown as a safety measure. In the race I can override it, switch it off and keep going if it's just a small electronic problem or something stupid. But I mean, as a safety issue, it's huge. It's stopped a lot of accidents, it's stopped a lot of things from happening. So it's hard to say.
I mean, I really still don't enjoy them, I still love going out there and being able to slide a little bit more than what we can. But to be honest, I don't think results from anybody would really change.
It doesn't help you to go faster. It sometimes helps you to conserve tires more, things like this, but what we mainly use the mappings for is just to map the engine, not so much the electronics or the traction control. Just to map the engine, the way the power comes on, things like this.
Q: To get a nice power, smooth power response.
CS: Exactly, so we've got three maps, and normally the bottom two maps, the bottom map especially, is just for bringing it home. I can still run some good lap times, especially when I am on a flowing track, when you don't need the power. But if I was to overtake someone, I wouldn't really have the acceleration to come out of corners. It's mainly when you at the front, or by yourself somewhere, and you can just start rolling through, the fuel consumption is gonna be a lot better on that map.
Whereas the B map uses a little bit more, the A map, the map that I use the most, gives you even more, like I said, until you've got that advantage, you whack it back to the C map just to bring it home, make sure you've got enough fuel. Because the higher maps can really chew through fuel, especially with wheel spin.
Q: So if there's a dry race tomorrow, there is going to be a lot of people pressing buttons on the, and playing around with their maps.
CS: I wouldn't be surprised, yes. They'd stagger a set of maps, and see which one is gonna work, and hopefully all these electronics work with fuel consumption management, and all this sort of stuff, and bring us home. Because it is gonna be the hardest thing. They have to go out and actually map the engine to understand how much fuel it's going to use, and if they don't understand how much fuel they are using, it's very difficult for them to know where to set it.
Q: Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just give you a couple of extra liters of fuel?
CS: I would love that, but that's too complicated. I don't know why we haven't got more liters in the tank. I don't see it being a money saver, or for any particular reason, it's just a limit they put on there. It's more the MSMA that make those sort of decisions, I think, rather than the Grand Prix Commission or anything like that.
Q: And the MSMA don't listen to the riders.
CS: Not a lot. They're engineers, they're technicians; they do that and they want that, and they don't care.
Q: And it's up to you to ride the thing.
CS: Pretty much.
Q: I know you're leaving at the end of the season, but it looks like Ducati might be revisiting the screamer engine concept over the winter. Have you given any thought about whether it is worth having another look at that concept, or if it would be better to stay with the big bang?
CS: If they can learn to control it, then yeah, it could be a great thing, because we lost a bit of power this year. Not so much lost from last year, but they brought an evolution of the screamer engine to the Valencia test, but the thing was just ridiculous. It wanted to rip my arms out and spin up and try and spit you off, and buck and weave. I did a few laps on it and decided I didn't want to have anything to do with it. So we rode the big bang engine, and it was quite similar to the other one, maybe a little less bottom end that first bit, but there was just so much more torque and progression through the revs.
As we've shown, it was the right decision: once we got the chassis to work a bit better, the engine was capable of winning races. We just missed the mark a bit. Considering we had one engine down after the first race, I think we've done pretty well. We're going to have no problems finishing the season. So we've basically done the whole season in five engines, and I think that's pretty good, compared to everybody else. We've managed it well, done everything right.
And we definitely chose the right engine for this year, we just weren't on the money with the setup, so, we took a little too long with that. Should be interesting to see what they can come up with for next year. But yeah, I rode whatever I had for this year, and it was the same from start to end, so I really had to work hard on it.
Q: Now we're near the end of the season, how do you feel about the engine restrictions? Have they made it interesting or made your job more difficult, because you're balancing engines, or has it not affected you at all?
CS: Sometimes it has made it more difficult, trying to go back and forth between engines. One engine in particular we had not too long ago, it might have been Aragon even, my second bike, it didn't feel quite as good. I was talking to my electronics guy and he estimated to me between 10 or 15 horsepower less than my good engine.
But that was really the only one this year. Most of them for me have been quite consistent throughout their life, so even the ones that we'd run off at quite a few corners, we didn't really have any issues with. I think everybody has been able to manage the situation quite well. No one seems to be in a tight situation, and everybody has managed it. Even if you do get the penalty, it makes an interesting race.
I wasn't really worried about the whole penalty, because we were looking at a pretty tough situation after race 1. Having already lost an engine, it looked like in the last two or three races we were going to have to put a new engine in. We were pretty lucky to be able to manage with what we have, and we know we weren't too worried about having to do a race like that. It happens, it was not a lot different to a terrible start I had in Silverstone. So, it's just whatever you can do, whatever the rules dish out, everybody has got to deal with, so the manufacturers as well.
Q: And there is worse places to start from than pitlane in Valencia.
CS: That is one thing that needs to be for sure addressed, because some circuits it's like a two seconds penalty, and other circuits it is a literal ten seconds penalty. So I don't see it being the greatest thing like that. I think if they are going to do the penalty, it has to be after the last rider or first rider passes you...
Q: From the back of the grid, and then a second set of lights for you or for whoever it is?
CS: Well, if somebody is starting up the end here and the start line is here, time has to start once you pass them, I think. In Philip Island you're basically starting together. So it's a huge disadvantage, whereas in Valencia you get five seconds and then you keep going. So things could be really different, you know. Interesting anyway.