2016 MotoGP Rules Clarified: 7 Engines, 22 Liters, 157kg, Concession Points Performance Balancing Introduced

The Grand Prix Commission have filled in the last question marks over the 2016 MotoGP regulations. While the decision on the amount of fuel the bikes would be allowed to run had already been decided last year, the rules on a minimum weight, the number of engines to be used, and how and whether the concessions allowed to manufacturers without a win would be extended into 2016 and beyond. All of these questions were settled at Qatar.

The GPC meeting, where Dorma, the FIM, the manufacturers and the teams meet to agree a set of rules, confirmed that all bikes in MotoGP next year will use 22 liters of fuel. They also agreed that the minimum weight would be 157kg, and that each rider would be allowed a maximum of 7 engines to last the year. Both these measures were compromises: originally, there was a proposal to reduce the minimum to 156kg, but after a reduction to 158kg for this year, it was felt that may be too fast. 

As for the number of engines, the Italian manufacturers found themselves pitted against the Japanese. Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha all wanted the number reduced to 6 engines per season, while Ducati and Aprilia lobbied for 9 engines. As the MSMA could not reach a unanimous conclusion, Dorna proposed a compromise, and the figure of 7 engines a season was accepted. Engine development will remain frozen, as before.

This does not apply to all of the manufacturers, however. Factories without a dry win between 2013 and 2015 will still be allowed to use 12 engines, as well as the other concessions currently granted to Ducati, Aprilia and Suzuki. Those factories will be free to test as often as they like with contracted riders, and engine development will still be allowed. 

Manufacturers can lose concessions, however, and a more formal system of point scoring has been introduced. With 3 points for a win, 2 for second and 1 for third, any manufacturer racking up a total of 6 concession points will lose the right to unlimited testing with immediate effect, and all concessions for the following season. If, for example, Ducati do not win a dry race in 2015, and score a total of 6 concession points in 2016, then they will have to compete with 7 engines, no development and restricted testing from the 2017 season onwards. 

Two interesting twists have been added to the new concession points system. The first is that concessions can be granted as well as lost. Any manufacturer not scoring a single podium (and therefore no concession points) during a season will have the full set of concessions granted for the following season. And to level the playing field a little, podiums scored in the wet will count towards losing concessions or not. So far, only results in they dry have counted.

The aim of the concession system is clear. By allowing factories which have so far been unsuccessful free development, more engines and more testing, they have the chance to catch up with the factories which are winning. Successful factories will not be able to extend their advantage over the rest too far during the season. It is a rather broad scale form of performance balancing, but implemented over the medium term, rather than the short term.

The GPC also discussed the matter of electronics. Honda and Yamaha had reportedly been unhappy with the current state of development, and had wanted more input into the spec software which is due to be introduced for 2016. The three manufacturers who in 2014 accepted the proposal to introduce of spec software for 2016 - Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati - have been given a veto over the software. Any changes which Magneti Marelli wishes to make to the software must be unanimously agreed to by the three factories. Conversely, if the three factories unanimously propose a change to the software, then that change must be made. The cost of doing so, however, must be borne by the three factories.

The change means that the spec software is likely to be more complex than was envisaged originally. The real intrigue will come from whether the three factories will remain unanimous in their demands. Over the past couple of years, Ducati has shown itself to be more than willing to break ranks with Honda and Yamaha, while the Japanese factories have always acted as a single front. This arrangement puts a lot of power into the hands of Ducati, and its racing boss Gigi Dall'Igna.

The press release containing the rule changes appears below:


FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix 
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM CEO), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 27 March 2015 in Losail (Qatar), made the following decisions:

Sporting Regulations

Effective 2015

Further to the decision made at the previous meeting concerning the procedure to be adopted when there is a change in climatic conditions after the riders have reached the grid after their sighting lap.

In the Moto3 and Moto2 classes, when a change in conditions leads to a start delayed procedure, the race distance will be reduced to 2/3 of the original race distance. This brings the procedure into line with that for restarted races in these classes.

Technical Regulations

MotoGP Class

Effective 2016

The number of engines that may be used in a season of up to 20 races is seven, with frozen specifications.

The minimum vehicle weight will be 157 kg.

The maximum fuel tank capacity will be 22 litres. (Already announced following the previous GPC meeting).

Concerning the unified software to be used in 2016 the following decision was made:

a). The strategies of the 2016 unified software will be based on the present version, (2015 start of season version), of the Open Class software.

b). Starting from July 1st 2015 and until the end of 2016 season, if a change of the unified software is requested unanimously by Ducati, Honda and Yamaha, then the Organiser must adopt this modification, but the cost is the responsibility of the manufacturers.

c). Conversely, during the same period as above, if the Organiser wants to make a change to the unified software, this change must be approved unanimously by Ducati, Honda and Yamaha; otherwise the Organiser can’t update the software.

Concessions - MotoGP Class

All concessions granted to MotoGP class Manufacturers who have not won a race in dry conditions in 2013, 2014 or 2015 will continue to apply. However the criteria for losing concessions has been redefined and will be based on "Concession Points" calculated as follows.

First place 3 concession points
Second place 2 concession points
Third place 1 concession point

The effect of this will be:

In 2015 a manufacturer achieving three Concession Points in dry races must immediately reduce fuel tank capacity from 24 litres to 22 litres.

(Note: the criteria for losing concessions concerning the use of Open class tyres and testing with contracted riders remains at three race wins in dry conditions).

In 2016 a manufacturer achieving six concession points in dry or wet conditions will immediately lose the right to test with contracted riders and will lose all concessions from the following season.

However, with effect from the 2016 season, any manufacturer who gains no concession points, (effectively meaning no podium places), will benefit from the full package of concessions in the following season.

A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the regulation changes may be viewed shortly on:

http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/regulations-and-documents/grand-prix/

Back to top

Comments

That all sounds sensible and on the face of it should help level the playing field and make the racing more competitive. What am I missing?

Total votes: 96

That didn't last long...

"if a change of the unified software is requested unanimously by Ducati, Honda and Yamaha, then the Organiser must adopt this modification,"

Only question now is who actually writes the code.

Total votes: 77

The factories submit the code on to the web portal setup by Dorna. The code that's approved by all 3 gets incorporated on to the ECU by MM.

Total votes: 72

Very interesting developments. David, I'm wondering what your thoughts are on Ducati's advantages this year. They will have 22L of fuel, 12 engines and unlimited testing throughout the season. Plus, with three wins, they get the hard rear tire which will most likely be important for some of the more abrasive tracks. I'm not seeing any disadvantages which would cancel out all of these massive perks.

I'm all for helping the little guy, but shouldn't the concessions be lost when Ducati starts winning more than 3 races? Staying with 22L of fuel vs 20L and 12 unsealed engines vs 5 sealed will undoubtedly impact the outcome of this year's championship.

If Dovi or Iannone won this year, I can't help but think they would always be remembered as having an unfair technical advantage. Rossi has apparently already spoken out about this [1].

EDIT: This link was posted on April 1st, so I have no idea if it's accurate. Regardless, the points in the article are valid.

1. http://www.foxsports.com/motor/story/motogp-valentino-rossi-speaks-on-un...

Total votes: 74

How would the engine reduction even work, say Ducati take their 3rd win late in the season after using 8-10 engines, how could you make them use the lower ammount?

On the engine freeze part I doubt Ducati will bring many major upgrades to that anyway

If one the Ducati riders toke the championaship (I doubt it) the tire situation would be the talking point, rather then the rest

Total votes: 73

that if they triggered the lower engine allocation and were already over that lower allocation, then they'd receive the same penalty they would have if they were already on the lower allocation and exceeded it - start 1 race from pit lane I believe.
IIRC Rossi copped a start-from-pitlane penalty when they bent the rules to bring in the de-stroked 1000 in the last 800 year.

Total votes: 61

Ducati would only lose their "unlimited testing with contracted riders" and soft tyre concession if they achieve the 3 dry wins for this year. The lower amount of engine use would apply to the following season not the current one so there is no question of them using less than allotted for the season. But there is the transition to points system so I am not sure if the loss of testing is for this year starting immediately after the last dry win or is only in effect starting next season....I will do some more reading....

Total votes: 68

Every championship is won by an unfair technical advantage. When MM won last year he had an unfair technical advantage in the fact there were only 2 of those bikes available on the planet. Pre control tyre every championship was won by a rider having special tyres made just for them and under a pecking order system. Honda and Yamaha have an unfair advantage every year simply because they control the rules. Do you think Honda and Yamaha would be happy if they didn't have a seat at the rules table and Suzuki and Aprilia did?

The fact of the matter is the whole concept of Motorsport in general is developing a technical advantage over your competitions. The stakes are big and the morales are not peachy clean.

Total votes: 65

Very well said mate!

People are pointing finger at Ducati and tearing chest for the handicapped Honda?Yamaha.

First of all, one must understand what Honda(to a certain extent Yamaha) is and what they have done to the sport in the past 20 years.

All these rules, control tyre, fuel limit, engine freeze, development ban...etc are introduced and enforced by Honda and Yamaha. Honda also have changed the lower class to Moto3 & Moto2 and have total control over it. Honda drove competitors away from the sport, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Aprilia, BMW, KTM, and all of them are respectable makes.

How could a once winning Aprilia and Gilera compete in a series that its rules are written by Honda and have no saying in it? there is no chance for Aprilia to enter moto2 as it is monopolised by Honda.

Some people might get upset, but these are very sad facts.

For the past couple of years, racing has become boring and predictable due to the fact that Honda had monopolised everything. Dorna have realised that and tried to somehow encourage other manufacturers to enter the series and make it a more level-playing-field by introducing the open-class rules.

Open class was there for all teams and Ducati decided to go for the open-class rules. Next, Honda/Yamaha felt the threat and went against Ducati's decision at full speed. Then Dorna as always bent over and re-wrote the rules in a way Honda/yamaha wanted.

Since then, everybody is crying for Ducati's head for having all the "unfair advantages"

Ducati do not have any advantages over others as it was available for everybody to choose. The current Ducati GP15 is more down to the genius of Gigi Dall'igna who revolutionised the whole Ducati Corse and of course the Desmosedici. If the rules would give any benefit, then Suzuki with all its might and money would be winning races day in and day out. The fact is, Suzuki had more than two years time to develop their bikes, have more money and resources that Ducati can't even dream of, yet they are not even mid-pack. Ducati had only 7 months to build the GP15 with much much much less money than resources. That should explain to some of the Ducati-bashers that the current rules don't give any unfair advantages to Ducati.

Also, on the part you mentioned about winning just because of having unfair advantages. Well 2005 and 2005 were the years that Rossi won the championship without having any advantages over others, particularly the Repsol Honda. and do you believe that the mighty Repsol Honda would allow Yamaha and Rossi have access to special tyres and having advantages over them?

Total votes: 71

This is a very big deal

1st thought:
The detail of UNANIMOUS voting by the manu's would be a saving grace if it were just that they could VETO with that vote. Perhaps then they would not be in control so much as a balance of power with Dorna. Equal partners. But with any Dorna electronics change requiring a unanimous decision to be added, that is a smidge different. The Manu's are in control of electronics.

There is a saving grace though: gone is a single Manu (HRC) forcing a rule for their particular gain. A hegemony from any one entity is prevented. This perhaps is the most essential issue addressed. But this is VERY different than what we just had until the Qatar meeting, when Dorna was making a new software package.

Key detail? "And the Manu's must pay for it." That's right. They must be unanimous AND fund in full a change they want. And it has to be available for everyone. And work with the hardware MM has.

Dorna has side stepped being in the business of long term electronics development. In a longer view context this can be seen as cementing that Dorna has stepped in to change the course of the MotoGP rulebook and balance of power. Now that they have done so, they are returning some control to the Manu's and specifically over development of software. Perhaps this is wise for the longer run. Dorna developing software? Not their bag.

The change of concessions to be awarded as well as lost is a neat addition. The detail that sticks out here is that concessions are lost via 6 podiums/3 wins and so forth, but awarded only for ZERO podiums. Including wet. That is a fairly high bar. So Suzuki can hang on to concessions until they are well established WITH THEM. Steady podiums and they lose engine development. Several dry wins and they lose testing and the soft tire. If this drops them off the podium altogether, back they come.

7 engines is low. But it is only for those w regular podiums. THAT is a cool way to leave that for now. Aprilia needs a bunch. Unlimited development of engines w testing by racers is even more important than the number allotted when you consider that the top Manu's will be frozen. This not only levels a playing field, but accelerates the pace at which the leveling occurs. Clever.

The outlier stand out weird rule in my view now is the soft tire concession and prevention of the Opens from using the hard. It is easy to see one oddball podium in the wet from a wet weather specialist on the super soft tire (picture Kawi O.J. scenario but add mixed wet - dry conditions and the super soft making for an additional factor supporting it further). Boom, one podium, no concessions gained. However, this would only apply for a Manu that had already lost concessions via regular trips to the podium. So differing in that respect. They have chosen for now to have the loss of tires and testing remain at 3 dry wins. That is a very high bar to achieve.

Also of course one must consider that these are rules for when we have Michelins. Our tire rules are surely in for a change, they are currently just transitional. Ton is coming to mind re this, but diverge from the issues at hand.

Tons are coming to mind re the changing role of software development within smaller teams too. Will our next Burgess or Gigi-like figure in garages of the future be holding a laptop on a non top tier team? "Software specialist Yoshi Tekawowi and Quartaro have proven to be a winning partnership this season." Overstated, sure, but the relevance of the role has surely increased.

Interesting rule changes for sure. Generally, Dorna getting out of the role of being the primary electronics developer? I say good idea.

Total votes: 69

The purpose of creating a system of concessions is to guarantee competition, the engine of progress, without imposing excessive technological restrictions. I don't understand why the end-goal is so elusive for the GPC. They seem more interested in playing Game of Thrones than building/racing motorcycles. Whose obsequious dissemblance and political back-channeling will prevail? Who cares!

We can find more technological variation in Superbike so.......... if the MSMA don't want explicit performance balancing and equalization, maybe they need to stop larping and get to work on a real set of technical regulations.

Total votes: 77

Will "concession teams" (CTs? CCTs?) benefit from the "one-step-softer-tire" without being able to use the harder grade, like Open and Factory Option teams actually do?

Total votes: 68

As I understand it, the idea is that next year, there will be no softer tire. The bikes will be much more similar (as they are now) and so there is no real need for the softer tire. However, there is some talk of Michelin bringing three compounds as standard for all of the entries. I think we will find out more later this year.

Total votes: 79

In the long departed, lovingly remembered, British TV series "Yes Minster/Yes Prime Minister" Jim Hacker MP often applied the following syllogism:
• We have a problem.
• We must do something.
• This is something,
• Therefore, we must do this.

Ciao

Total votes: 73

only problem I have is with this. not with unnanimously in itself, but the fact that it`s only between Honda, Yamaha and Ducati. What about Suzuki, Aprilia and any other manu that might want to enter ? Every manu should be treated in the same way.

Total votes: 68

Can someone explain the frozen engine spec/no engine development rule? What if a factory wants to change the angle cut on the seat of a valve? Are there any material changes allowed to the engine or is it enforced 100% across every single part. I am sure the answer is in front of me and the rule is literal but I want to make sure I'm not missing something. Thanks.

Total votes: 70

The manufacturers subject to the freeze submit their allotted number of engines to the race officials at the start of the season to be sealed up then those engines are all they are allowed to use for the season.

Total votes: 72

*After which the mechanics who assemble said engines are sent to the Dorna Gulag, where they sit the season out, only being allowed to return home once the season has ended and all engines used have been run without failure.

I think I'd rather glue tiles to a space shuttle than assemble factory MotoGP engines.

Total votes: 65

What happens to Aprilia and Suzuki? Will they be forced to use the ECU software written by the big-3 manufacturers? Doesn't that put them at a HUGE disadvantage?

Total votes: 70

One way of looking at it is that getting electronics developed for them by the big 3 is the huge advantage for Aprilia and Suzuki. Suzuki ' s track record with electronics is not up to their level.

Another way of looking at this whole deal from a dab more distance is that Dorna told the Manu's that the concessions would continue when they hoped to hear otherwise. Dorna looks in better shape here to me than some other folks are expressing.

Total votes: 72

This is all about manufacturers but what about nonfactory and satellite teams, ie the current Open class?

Total votes: 68

As the rules are written, if you win 3 races you lose concessions, should as number of engines allowed, the following season. So if you had already used more engines in the present season there would be no penalty. You would only lose your larger engine allotment in the following season.

Total votes: 72