MotoGP Qualifying Shake Up: Two 15 Minute QP Sessions To Decide Grid Order
Qualifying for the MotoGP class is to undergo a shake up starting from next year. Instead of the current one-hour qualifying format, two sessions of 15 minutes will settle the starting grid, with the riders divided into two groups on the basis of their combined times through the three sessions of free practice.
The new system is a hybrid of the current system and the superpole format used by World Superbikes and Formula One. An intial selection will be made on the basis of the combined times of the first three sessions of free practice, with the 10 fastest riders going straight through to QP2, with the rest left to fight it out in QP1. The 2 fastest riders in the 15-minute QP1 session will go through to QP2. The original 10 fastest from free practice will be joined by the 2 fastest from QP1 to fight it out for the top 12 grid positions in the 15-minute QP2 session.
To compensate for the shortened qualifying sessions, a 30-minute-long fourth session of free practice will added before qualifying starts.
The idea, put before the riders at the last race in Aragon, is to spice qualifying up a little. It codifies the current situation, in which the riders spend the first 40 minutes of the hour-long qualifying session working on set up, before pushing for a grid position in the last 15 minutes or so. It takes the current practice and pours into a more TV-friendly format, with the set up work to be left for FP4, while the intensity of the last 15 minutes of qualifying is distilled into QP1 and QP2.
The splitting of the two sessions also cuts back the number of riders on track at the same time during the hectic push for a fast time. With between 22 and 24 riders expected in the MotoGP class in 2013, each session will contain some 12 riders. The format also allows a rider with problems during free practice to advance to QP2 by giving them a chance to shoot for the top 2 times in QP1.
The downside of the change is that it will impact on TV coverage of qualifying for the Moto3 and Moto2 classes. The entire period containing FP4, QP1 and QP2 is now 80 minutes long, instead of just an hour. That leaves less time for Moto2 and Moto3, though there are no proposals to shorten qualifying for the support classes. A possible solution could be for FP4 for the MotoGP class to be run prior to qualifying for Moto3, though it is unknown whether this is currently under consideration.
The meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, in which the qualifying changes were announced, also contains a revised definition of MotoGP's calendar year. But what it doesn't contain is any word of the 2014 regulations, the introduction of a standard ECU and a rev limit. The future of MotoGP remains on hold. That situation cannot be allowed to last for long.
Below is the press release from the FIM announcing the changes:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Grand Prix Commission
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Executive Director, Sport), Herve Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA) in the presence of Javier Alonso (Dorna) and Mike Trimby (IRTA, Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on 13 October in Motegi (Japan), decided the following:
The “season” will now be defined as starting on the day after the final race of the year and finishing on the day of the final race of the following year.
The reason for this change is that some regulations currently refer to restrictions on activities in a “calendar year”. It is thought more relevant to determine that the new season starts with testing etc., immediately after the last race.
One effect of this change is that Manufacturers competing in the MotoGP class will now have to nominate their three designated testing circuits before the conclusion of the last race of the year.
Non-factory teams may now use a contracted rider or a non-contracted test rider, approved by Race Direction, to carry out testing using the “test tyre allocation”.
Effective 01 January 2013:
There will be a new procedure for grid qualification for the MotoGP Class.
1. The three existing sessions of free practice will be unchanged, however, the combined times from those sessions will determine participation in the final qualifying practice.
2. The ten fastest riders will be seeded through to Qualifying Practice 2 (QP2).
3. All other riders will take part in Qualifying Practice 1 (QP1).
4. The fastest two riders in QP1 will progress to QP2, making a total of 12 riders competing for the first 12 grid positions.
5. The riders not in the fastest two places in QP1 will take grid positions 13 and above according to their times in QP1.
New Practice Timings
|Free Practice 1||45 Minutes (Unchanged) Timed for Qualifying Practice Participation|
|Free Practice 2||45 Minutes (Unchanged) Timed for Qualifying Practice Participation|
|Day Two - Morning|
|Free Practice 3||45 Minutes (Unchanged) Timed for Qualifying Practice Participation|
|Day Two - Afternoon - New Schedule|
|Free Practice 4||30 Minutes Not Timed for Qualifying Practice Participation|
|Qualifying Practice 1||15 minutes|
|Qualifying Practice 2||15 minutes|
A regularly updated version of the FIM Grand Prix Regulations which contains the detailed text of the changes may be viewed on: