We expected it, but reality is surpassing our most pessimistic forecasts: the current world championship will be unusual, and not just because it is compressed within a few months. The fact that Marc Marquez got hurt immediately unleashed the MotoGP ‘pack’ which, without the Lion King, immediately went wild in search of the vacant throne.
The king without a throne for some time, but who still has a strong charisma within the group - Valentino Rossi - has also noticed that aggression has reached and exceeded the danger level. In this sense, the accident between Zarco and Morbidelli sounded an alarm, which was widely confirmed by the facts.
In just four races in addition to Marquez (humerus), Crutchlow (scaphoid), Rins (shoulder), Bagnaia (tibia), Zarco (scaphoid) have been injured and among the riders whose crashes could have more serious consequences we must include, besides Morbidelli, also Petrucci.
Is it normal that seven of the top riders, one third of the MotoGP grid, are already in such a position after just four races?
This will be the world championship title for anyone who finishes it in a reasonably healthy state; especially if we take account of the fact that there is no recovery time. All the riders involved in the accidents, more or less, were in fact forced to return early.
We know fully well that it’s the man who takes the chequered flag who wins, and if you make a mistake and you crash it's your fault, but don't tell me that this is a normal world championship, because it's not. And above all, do not try and find comparisons with the past, typical of the 1993 world championship when Kevin Schwantz won the title after Wayne Rainey's accident in Misano.
At that time, 11 out of 14 Grands Prix had already been held. We’re talking about totally different situations. If we then add to this the unusual fact of the Grands Prix held one after another on the same circuit, the 2020 MotoGP world championship appears for what it really is: a singularity, to use an astronomical term.
As dangerous as a black hole and, as far as we can remember, more like the 125cc world championship of 1990, when Fausto Gresini was injured immediately and Martinez, Spaan, Capirossi, Romboni all made a lot of mistakes until it came to the showdown at Phillip Island when the Italian team game projected a very young Loris towards his first world title.
For the moment, the favourite – with Marc Marquez absent – is still the one who has come behind him in the last three seasons: Andrea Dovizioso. After four races, in fact, he has already reduced his gap from the leader, Fabio Quartararo, to just 11 points and next Sunday he plays his joker card by racing again at the Red Bull Ring, the Ducati ‘freeway’, the circuit on which the Red bikes are unbeaten in five seasons, all those in which the race has been run since Austria's return to the world championship.
In fact, at Zeltweg, the Dovizioso-Desmosedici duo might only be beaten by Pol Espargarò-KTM, who had a chance to do so but who were interrupted by the mega-accident and a red flag. An attack could also come from Suzuki, which is however at quite a disadvantage on this track. Hence, the most accredited rival could be Jack Miller, with the same bike. But will Jackass be free to run his race with one foot already in the factory team?
It must be said, however, that up to now the top three have not excelled for consistency of performance. With two podiums each - two wins for Fabio, two second places for Maverick, a third and a first for Andrea - the Frenchman has a points average of 16.75, the Spaniard 14 and the Italian just 12.
Marc Marquez, with three out of four races - in Austin he crashed due to a technical problem - in 2019 achieved 70 points (17.5 on average) and Dovizioso himself scored 67.
However, we cannot compare this world championship with the previous one for the reasons mentioned above. There are too many differences, and this being the case, it will be possible to hazard a prediction perhaps already after the Misano 'double-header'. Where, however, Marquez might return. But the question is a must because the second operation could have lengthened his recovery time and with the world championship already compromised Marc could also decide to postpone his return.
After all, who really knows his physical state? Let's say it out loud: we went from photos of a Marc doing weights with his injured arm, to that of him in front of the TV taken from the left side ...
In addition, this unusual world championship, held up with crutches to safeguard its economic aspect, will still reserve some surprises for us because on paper after the double race at Misano, on 13 and 20 September, we will be entering Comanche territory with the Barcelona GPs, which with the previous two will form a triple-header, followed by Le Mans. Spain and France, nations now under attack from a second wave of Covid-19. And then? Two more double races, in Aragon and Valencia, to finish on a circuit unknown to MotoGP, Portimao.
If just 9 circuits in 14 races are enough to make us look askance at this world championship, five double-headers confirm that Dorna did a miracle in incredibly calamitous times, but that we cannot judge this championship with the usual parameters.
For heaven's sake, there will always and only be one name on the trophy-tower at the end of the world championship, but history is useful for this: to frame the facts, to give them the right value and also to weigh up the protagonists. Those who say the opposite disavow the very meaning of the word which means 'knowledge'.
But for the moment, let's enjoy this Styrian Grand Prix. We are curious to see Dovizioso repeat the feat of last weekend - in an attempt to chase away his demons and imitate Rosberg's victory over Hamilton - but also KTM hitting the target a second time, understanding how much Suzuki is actually close to the best and how much Yamaha is suffering due to the mystery surrounding its engines. And, of course, but this we will know very soon, see what the panel of stewards will be able to come up with in the hearing of Zarco and Morbidelli. And the riders themselves after the usual safety meeting, from the same facts.