Tech Blog: A question of weather

Published: 26 July 2009

Warm –up today was wet, wet enough to mean that everyone got a handle on what would be needed set-up wise if the weather stayed miserable. 

Bridgestone tyres seem to work better after they have been scrubbed in on the spare bike, so everyone gets a couple of laps in on one set on the spare bike then makes sure the race bike also gets a good few laps.

The idea is not to crash, just to get the riders head up to speed. It doesn’t really matter how fast they go, unless they have a set-up issue that need to be resolved, in which case, it is worth really going for it. 

With the weather conditions as they were, tyres were no longer an issue because the single wet practice session had ensured there were enough tyres left over out of the allocation, wet or dry.

Normally though the teams would use up the tyres in warm-up that they had decided they would not need for the race.

Conditions for the race, though, were difficult. It was spotting with rain as riders set-off on their formation lap so the conundrum was: is it going to stay dry(ish) or is it going to get wetter.

There seemed little chance of it drying out completely, give the overcast conditions. 

The riders came back from sighting lap, stopped on the grid, got a shock to see the Ducatis sitting there with steel discs and wet tyres.

Everyone waited for them to change but they didn’t and Andrea Dovizioso - who really swears - was heard to exclaim f**k in total disbelief as he looked across at their set-up.

It’s not like the 125 or 250 classes where you change wheels if you make a bad call on tyre choice, in MotoGP you swap bikes. But while the time penalty for changing is quite low, it is still significant.

Ten laps into the race the Ducatis were beaten, both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden  were so far back that it was pointless swapping to a slick-shod bike, and their wets had degraded enough to not be as good as a fresh set.

So even if it had chucked it down with rain again any of their rivals could have
pitted for a wet set-up bike and still rejoined the race in front of them -  and with fresher wets.

But while it did continue to rain , and four riders came into the pits for their wet-set-up bikes, the rain never fell heavy enough to really warrant wets, although those who stayed on slicks continued with extreme caution

As a result of what seemed a strange gamble (normally if teams gamble they would not gamble on both riders stating with an identical set-up) Ducati saw their title hopes take another knock.

By lap 22, whether they were on slicks and wets, the riders were lapping in similar times - but those who had stayed out on slicks came out on top.