MotoGP: New dashboard warnings introduced for Austrian Grand Prix
Additional dashboard messages for rider behaviour and equipment problems will be introduced at this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.
Two messages will be available to race direction at the Red Bull Ring, the first of which will be used to tell a rider not to repeat any 'borderline' behaviour which has already been picked up on by officials.
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This could be related to a rider riding aggressively or dangerously, or perhaps making contact with another rider during an attempted overtaking manoeuvre. This decision comes after Aleix Espargaro suggested that penalties should be handed out for the action, rather than the result. The Aprilia rider was referring to two incidents with Marc Marquez at the Styrian Grand Prix, with the Repsol Honda clashing with Espargaro at turn one during both race starts.
Espargaro was hit, and consequently sat up, by Marquez at the first start, before being forced off the circuit at the restart (the original race was red flagged following an incident involving Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo Savadori), and falling towards the back of the field as a result. Espargaro pointed out that because he didn't crash no penalty was given to Marquez, whereas if he'd have fallen the chances of the six-time MotoGP champion being penalised would be much higher.
"There are times when a rider may do something we don't like, but it is borderline and could have been a misjudgement or a mistake," Race Director Mike Webb explains. "However, if they repeat that behaviour and prove it was neither, it will incur a penalty. So, the Stewards want a warning signal to say ‘hey, don’t do that. We’re watching and if you do it again there will be a penalty’.
"There’s a new display on the dashboard called ‘warning’ and it’s specifically about rider behaviour. The warning signal says to the rider ‘what you’re doing, we don’t like it. Pay attention and if you continue there could be a penalty'."
The second new message is regarding problem with rider equipment, including leathers, boots, gloves, and their helmet. This can be directly linked to the bizarre situation that Fabio Quartararo found himself in at the Catalan Grand Prix in June.
The Frenchman's leathers came open, and whilst trying to fix the problem, Quartararo ended up unzipping his leather further, removing his chest plate and continuing to ride with his chest exposed until the end of the race.
Quartararo was given no instructions to pull over, nor were any black flags waved. Quartararo finished third but was later handed a three-second penalty. However, race direction received plenty of criticism for not waving the black flag on safety grounds.
"We had something that has never happened before, where a rider’s equipment; leathers, wasn’t functioning correctly and we needed to tell the rider to fix it," Webb said. "There isn’t really an appropriate signal. We have signals about a mechanical failure on the bike, signals about disqualifications and things like that, but we decided after this incident that we needed a specific signal about rider equipment because it’s different to a mechanical failure, where if a bike is leaking oil or water or something, it’s important the bike goes off the track immediately.
"In the case of a problem or fastening undone on rider equipment, or something that’s not immediately a problem but needs to be fixed, it’s a different situation. So, we have a new signal on the dashboard, it shows ‘equipment’ on the rider dashboard and the meaning has been explained to the riders and teams: There is a problem with your equipment, and you’re required to fix it immediately.
"If that means coming into the pits to fix it, ok. Or if you can fix it yourself on track, that’s also ok. What we require is that you fix it immediately, so there’s a new message about rider equipment.”
These messages will work alongside the commonly used track limits warning, which is used frequently at the Red Bull Ring. A warning is sent to the rider’s dashboard, and if they continue to exceed track limits, a long lap penalty will be the punishment.