In the biggest shake-up to the grand prix format for decades, MotoGP will introduce half-distance sprint races on the Saturday of every round in 2023.
The sprint is an independent race and will not count as a qualifying for the main grand prix, which will continue to take place on Sundays.
The introduction of the new format came as a surprise to the riders when it was announced last year as the proposal was for sprints to feature at all 21 rounds in 2023, unlike in Formula 1 where there are currently six across the season.
The green light for the rethink was given by series promoters Dorna Sports and the governing body the FIM at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, though by this time most of the grid had already signed their contracts for 2023 or had pre-existing agreements in place — which did not feature sprint races.
With an extra contest added to the weekend, riders have raised concerns about the added risk factor of doubling the amount of racing, which has led to many agents in the paddock to argue that their riders should be paid a bonus for their performances in the sprint races.
This is seen as being something of more importance given the fact that most base salaries now are smaller than they used to be, with performance-based bonuses favoured.
During last weekend’s first pre-season test of 2023 in Malaysia, several meetings took place between some team bosses in order to explore a possible consensual solution to the sprint race bonus issue with the teams and the promoters.
Remy Gardner, KTM Tech3
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Motorsport.com understands, having spoken with several figures, the initial idea was to establish a common money pool divided equally in two: one half would be paid by the teams in equal parts, while the other half would be paid by Dorna.
However, this proposal will not even be presented to Dorna now due to a lack of consensus among teams and manufacturers as some don’t look favourably on the possibility of having to pay the prize for a rival to win in the sprint race — an understandable position given the uneven grid spread in 2023, with eight Ducatis, four Hondas, Aprilias and KTMs, and two Yamahas.
With just over a month to go until the season starts in Portugal on 26 March, everything points to teams having to agree individually with their riders to set their own bonus payments for sprint races — if they are willing to do so.