New tyre pressure rule making MotoGP “unsafe”

To close up a grey area in the rule book over tyre pressures, after numerous teams were found last year to have been running under the recommended minimum set by Michelin, MotoGP introduced a stricter enforcement on the matter for 2023.

From the British GP, the rule was officially mandated, whereby riders must run at the minimum front (1.88 bar) and rear (1.7 bar) pressures for at least 50% of a grand prix and 30% of a sprint.

The rule was ostensibly brought in as a safety measure on the advice from Michelin, though riders have criticised it.

This is largely down to the fact front tyres lose grip and braking performance once they go above 2.0 bar of pressure.

While this is dangerous in itself, it has also meant overtaking has become a lot harder as well as more aggressive, as riders try to make up ground as early as possible in races to avoid any pressure issues.

This was one of the elements blamed by riders after last week’s San Marino Grand Prix for leading to boring racing.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“For me, it’s unsafe this rule, because you risk to crash a lot more,” Ducati’s Bagnaia said.

“When you are behind a rider and you want to have an attempt, you have to risk a lot.

“It’s very easy to lose a front. And in conditions like [in the grand prix] in a track like Misano, where you brake a lot, the front pressure can be a really big limit.

“But it’s what we have. So, we have to understand better where to improve on that.

“We have to predict better what will happen in the race, because if you are in front a lot you have to do one thing for the race; if you are behind, you have to do another thing.

“So, it changes a lot, but this rule doesn’t make our sport safer for sure.”

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While the long-term aim is to disqualify any rider found to have run under the minimum pressure outside of the allowed tolerance, penalties are dished out on a sliding scale beginning with a warning.

So far, two riders have been found to have broken the new rule. Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales did so in the Catalan GP, while KTM wildcard Dani Pedrosa did so at the San Marino GP.

Both received an official warning. Any future transgression this season will result in a time penalty.

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