MotoGP contemplates in-race radio, riders are cautious

Published: 09:14 PM, 15 Sep, 2020
MotoGP contemplates in-race radio, riders are cautious
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MotoGP is contemplating copying Formula One and hooking riders up to radio during races, even though it would pose particular problems in motorcycling.

The main argument in favour is warning riders of danger areas, yellow warning flags or red flags that neutralise racing. They currently receive those notifications through a display on their handlebars.

The system could also allow teams to tell riders of changes in race strategy, as happens in F1. 

A first test took place before the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano on Sunday. There will be a second trial run, involving a larger number of volunteer riders, on the same circuit on Tuesday. 

At the moment, teams pass information to riders by hanging signs outside the pit lane on every lap. 

"We already have good information from the signs," said Frenchman Johann Zarco. "It will always be interesting to have more, but we can't do the same as in F1, we are bikers."

MotoGP races are much shorter than F1 races and there are no tyre-change pit, reducing the need to communicate with the rider, Frenchman Fabio Quartararo pointed out. 

"It's difficult enough as it is to race without having someone to talk to you," said the Yamaha-SRT rider, who is second in the world championships.

"If someone talks to me in the middle of a bend, it might bother me. But I'm curious to see what happens. I've never heard anyone talking to me in my helmet when I'm riding, so we'll see", he said.

The bikes are noisier than F1 cars and riders might not hear the messages with the added noise of the wind in the helmet. 

"If it doesn't distract me, it's a plus", said Spaniard Maverick Vinales. "Sometimes it's difficult to see the yellow flags and even the red flag  that appears on our screen. When you are in a state of maximum concentration you don't always see it."

Italian Franco Morbidelli, the winner at San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday, likes the idea. 

'Sometimes I shout' 

"It is a good development for the future and also for security," he said. "We will see if we can use it for other messages or to make the rider talk."

"One of my favourite things about Formula One is to hear the drivers talking to their team. It would be nice to have it in MotoGP too if it doesn't bother the riders and create an extra danger," said the Yamaha-SRT rider. 

Vinales, who rides for Yamaha, agreed that hearing the drivers in Formula One added to the spectacle. 

"Sometimes I talk or shout under my helmet, especially when I overtake another driver, so having a broadcast like in F1 could be good," he said. 

The example of the F1 drivers shows that the words of their race engineer are not always welcome. "I know what I have to do", said Kimi Raikkonen after being offered advice.

The often unflattering comments of four-tome world champion Sebastian Vettel about his opponents and race incidents are also famous. 

The Spaniard Fernando Alonso quarrelled with Honda after saying on air during a race that the engine of his car was not good enough for F1.


Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.