Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 82: Silverstone, Much Ado About Nothing

There may not have been any racing at Silverstone, but if anything, that gave us more to talk about, rather than less. In this episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast, Neil Morrison and David Emmett mull over the events that led to the non-event that was the British round of MotoGP at Silverstone.

Obviously, the big topic of discussion is exactly what went wrong. We walk through the sequence of events which led to the postponement of racing, from the resurfacing back in February to F1 in July to the rain in FP4 which saw Tito Rabat fall and be so badly injured by Franco Morbidelli's Honda, and then to the rescheduled race start and the eternal delays which eventually saw all racing called off.

We talk about whether it was the right decision to call off the race. Whether the accusations of cowardice leveled at the riders by some fans were justified. Whether it would have been possible to actually try to put on a race at some point during that fateful Sunday. And what this all means for Silverstone, and the future of the British Grand Prix.

Despite the rain dominating the headlines, there were one or two other tidbits of news to discuss from Silverstone. Neil and David talk all about the Petronas Sepang Yamaha team, which was officially launched on Friday at the track, and what it means for the future. We talk about the 2019 calendar, and the decision to drop Mexico from the proposed schedule. And we finish up as always with our winners and losers for the weekend, with a special shout out to the fans who sat patiently and bravely through hours and hours of rain, only to have the whole thing called off.

Enjoy the show, despite the lack of racing!

 

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Round Number: 
12
year: 
2018

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Comments

Thanks guys, and some sanity talked. I mentioned myself that the re-surfacing issue carries all kinds of scenarious. What was the Invitation To Tender (an ITT in the game) asking for? Did it ask for option prices on different specs, did it say specifically what the spec was? The fingers have been pointing at the contractor; perhaps they laid exactly what was asked for, and it simply wasn't up to the job. Or they pointed out that the weather was adverse and were told to get on with it. Too many guesses right now.

What I do know, is I want my money back ;)

As for the armchair experts calling the riders cowards; nuff said, and why I hardly ever bother with social media nowadays.

Luckily for me I booked my tickets through Dorna, I emailed them on Tuesday and by Thursdsy had been offered free tickets for next years race, where ever that may be. Don't know how simple it will be with Silverstone though.

THE RACE AND THE MEETING THAT WEREN´T

For the first time in FIM GP history, 1949 to the present, there was no British G.P. It was the first time an FIM Grand Prix was cancelled since the Austrian Grand Prix of 1980 was snowed out. (I was there to cover the event, sleeping in a tent and riding a test bike…my magazine´s idea of multi-tasking.)

The reasons for the Silverstone cancellation are dealt with in David´s text, so I just want to focus on two points: The supposed Safety Commission meeting on Sunday and the decision not to race on Monday.

A lot has been said and written about the riders voting not to ride at a Sunday meeting of the Safety Committee and the factories refusing the idea of a Monday race, but there was no Safety Commission meeting on Sunday and it seems that the entities opposed to a Monday race were the teams, although they were probably informed by the factories. We know Ducati wanted to race, so it was not a unanimous decision.

The following is from an interview with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta conducted by Mela Chércoles of AS, the Madrid sports daily, and was posted on the AS website. The interview took place on the Monday when the race could have been held. Just to make it very clear, I am including the Spanish in case anyone wants to check for nuance.

Ezpeleta: "Pensamos en la posibilidad, porque hoy es fiesta en Inglaterra, de hacerla el lunes, pero la mayoría de los equipos prefirieron no hacerla. Yo no lo entendí muy bien, pero respeté lo que se decía."

"We thought about the possibility, because today is a holiday in England, to do it on Monday, but the majority of the teams preferred not to. I didn´t understand (that..their position) very well, but I respected what they said." 

As is pointed out in the podcast, the Qatar Monday race in 2009 was made possible by the Circuit (Qatari owner) paying the significant extra expenses. 

Here is a question and answer from the same interview that shed light on what did and did not happened Monday midday.

Chércoles: “¿Cómo surge esa reunión? Hubo pilotos que no se enteraron, como Dovizioso, y le molestó que no se contara con él.”

“How did this meeting come about? There were riders who didn’t know about it, like Dovizioso, and it annoyed him that he was not counted on.”

“-Fue una reunión porque ellos empezaron a aparecer en el camión del IRTA, nos llamaron y fuimos. No la convocó nadie. No fue una Comisión de Seguridad. Fue una reunión improvisada a la que nos llamaron y fuimos.”

“It was a meeting because they (the riders) started showing up at the IRTA truck; they called us and we came over. Nobody called a meeting. It was not a Safety Commission meeting. It was just an improvised meeting to which we were invited and attended."

In other statements Carmelo Ezpeleta makes it clear that it was not a decision taken by the riders but a decision taken by Dorna based on the opinion of the riders, the safety officers (Capirossi and Uncini) and Race Direction. 

Seems like one in the same, but I doubt that the contract between Silverstone and Dorna recognizes the authority of the riders to cancel a race. Perhaps the lawyers could tell us if this is significant. Stuart Pringle, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuit, said that he believes "the riders" had met and decided not to race, perhaps a loophole for some legal action by Silverstone. Here is a quote from Stuart Pringle that seems to be asserting that this was a rider decision:

 “In the end I thought we were going to have one more track inspection at 16:00. It turns out there was a meeting of the riders beforehand and they elected enough was enough and it wasn’t going to happen.”

Carmelo Ezpeleta, since the death of Daijiro Kato, maintains close contact with the MotoGP riders and, on matters of safety, there have been few, if any, disagreements. The Safety Commission was created in the aftermath of Kato´s fatal crash in Suzuka at the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix. The decision not to race in Silverstone on Sunday, August, 23, was taken by Dorna. The decision not to race on Monday, August 24, however, was, it seems, taken by the teams.

One outcome of all this will probably be that Dorna/FIM contracts an independent consultant to oversee and approve (or not) future resurfacing work done by contractors hired by the circuits. But, how do you actually test a circuit´s safety in the wet? Cal Crutchlow rode a roadbike around and that gave him some idea of the bumps. He thought the track was OK. Would he have thought the same thing after a couple of laps on his MotoGP Honda?

Did something change between the Uncini safety inspection and the race? 

The circuit has “scans” of the surface that will answer the part of that question that deals with the bumps.

But meanwhile, Silverstone and Silverstone´s insurance company are looking at some big costs, not the least of which are the refunding of some 50,000 tickets and parking fees…and then the costs of resurfacing again.

We will turn our attention to Misano and the remaining 7 races, but there may be some work for lawyers as a result of the race that wasn´t.

Better call Saul.

 

 

 

 

Rather annoyed that a private test should take preference over holding a round of the World championship on a holiday Monday. When there is a two week or more gap between races, the option should always be available and planned for by organisers and teams!

I've worked several international events including motogp and world superbike.  The challenges of holding a race on monday when it had been scheduled on sunday are vast. 

There are the obviously logistical things that usually are scheduled and coordinated months in advance.  For example, the helicopter(s) for medical, the ambulances and staff, the television equipment (trucks, cables, satellite space, etc), the on-track personnel (medical, corner workers, people to run the crash truck(s)), the medical center staff, catering, ushers, ticket checkers and gate keepers, vendors, and so on.  The list of people and resources is enormous. Some of these people are paid, some are volunteers/ethusiasts with primary jobs to attend to.

And then on to things like transportation where the entire event circus has to get from where they are to the next place.  There has to be enough airline seats going to the right places, the transport companies (DHL, FEDEX, UPS, etc) are involved.  And so on.

It isn't at all an easy thing.