Following multiple edge-of-the-seat collisions in recent races, Dorna is trialling a Formula One-style helmet radio communication as part of a new push on safety measures.
Introducing a new means of warning riders of on-track hazards, the Safety Commission at MotoGP say the main purpose of the radios is to ensure riders are aware of any danger areas, to prioritise safety and avoid any further damage.
Currently during MotoGP races, riders receive messages on their dashboards, but these are often delayed and occasionally unnoticed – something that Yamaha rider, Maverick Vinales has brought to attention in recent interviews.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to see the yellow flags and even the red flag that appears on our screen. When you are in a state of maximum concentration, you don’t always see it.” – Maverick Vinales
While many of the riders are intrigued by the proposed system, some aren’t too sure it will work. Frenchman, Fabio Quartararo isn’t completely sold yet, pointing out that MotoGP races are much shorter than Formula One races, without the need for pit stops. As well as this, he suggests that audio communication could be distracting and would take some adjusting to.
“It’s difficult enough as it is to race without having someone to talk to you. If someone talks to me in the middle of a bend, it might bother me. But I’m curious to see what happens. I’ve never heard anyone talking to me in my helmet when I’m riding, so we’ll see.” – Fabio Quartararo
Meanwhile motorsport legend, Valentino Rossi considers it “a good step forward for MotoGP” and fellow Italian, Franco Morbidelli believes it would be an important “development for the future and also for security” explaining that hearing F1 drivers talking to their team is one of his favourite things about Formula One.
However, concerns have been raised since Dorna confirmed the system could develop from safety warnings, such as upcoming collisions, to team-rider communications like in Formula One, which would include instructions and race strategy.
Both fans and riders fear that too much team influence during the race could erase the DNA of the sport. KTM rider, Pol Espargaro feels the current pit boards and dashboard messages are enough, suggesting that MotoGP would be dulled down and lose its charm if it was to follow in the tyre tracks of Formula One.
“If we put the radios on then the next step is that the pitboxes will control what’s going on with the bike. The third step is that the guys in the box will see the tyre wear and spin and all these things and will tell the rider what to do. It will be less human and more machine – I like that the rider decides.” – Pol Espargaro.
But riders’ opinions may be different after they get to experience the software first-hand. German test rider and Repsol Honda stand-in, Stefan Bradl was the first to test the radio system at Misano, and generally had positive feedback:
“I got some messages like ‘Warning’ or ‘Yellow flag’. The voice I had in my ear was fine. I could hear it very well. It was not dangerous or distracting me. From that point of view, they have done a good job.” – Stefan Bradl.
We look forward to hearing the first impressions of the riders having trialled the technology, and a decision on whether MotoGP is to make this change.