MotoGP’s Friday format tweak approved with immediate effect
The 2023 season has seen the MotoGP weekend format undergo one of its most radical changes ever with the introduction of sprint races at every round.
This has led to the combined times at the end of Friday’s two practice sessions determining which riders progress directly to Q2 in qualifying and who has to face the Q1 elimination.
Previously, it was the combined times at the end of Saturday’s FP3 session that decided this.
While the change has added more intrigue to Friday’s running, it has been met with criticism from many riders, who have raised safety concerns about the fact they have to use the closing portions of both FP1 and FP2 as a mini qualifying session.
During the Dutch GP weekend, Motorsport.com reported that a change to the regulations for 2024 would see just second practice times count towards the Q1/Q2 order.
However, on Monday afternoon, the FIM released a statement from the GPC that, following “unanimous agreement” from all teams, this change would be made with immediate effect.
While none of the session times will change on a grand prix weekend, their designation has been altered.
Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
First practice on Friday will still be known as FP1, while the second session will simply be called Practice. The third session of the weekend on Saturday morning will now be known as FP2.
The riders initially requested this format tweak to be made for this year’s British GP on 4-6 August, but had this request rejected following a manufacturers’ association meeting at Assen.
At the time, unanimous agreement was not reached, with Ducati the only manufacturer opposing the change.
This led to an angry outburst from Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who said at Assen: “All riders, it looked like, were pushing to change the Friday schedule to make free practice one ‘free’.
“But it looks like Ducati does not agree. They voted against this. We asked for this change not for a competitive thing, it was more for safety to avoid crashes in practice one, to be more relaxed and just stress everyone in the last 15 minutes of FP2.
“But it looks like they don’t like the idea. It’s strange because their riders, believe me, were in favour to change that. But the bosses of Ducati don’t.
“So, it will stay like this for the rest of the season.”
However, Motorsport.com now understands Ducati changed its stance following a discussion with Dorna Sports prior to the GPC meeting.