The numerous crashes in FP3 set off alarm bells on pit lane for almost all the MotoGP teams, but there were actually no critical issues in the Michelin camp, as the top man from the Clermont-based manufacturer, Nicolas Goubert explained thoroughly.
“We started very well on Friday with blue skies and a good temperature, but in the first Saturday morning session we found a very different situation. The asphalt was 18 degrees cooler and above all, there was a very cold breeze and that is what caused a lot of crashes. The fact is that most of the riders went out with the medium tyres on the front…To be honest, we were surprised because the medium does not come up to temperature easily. We were too overconfident. The teams and us, but that is normal. We are in the second year and we are still learning. In fact, when everyone went with the soft tyres, the situation obviously changed.”
Schwantz also pointed out the effect that the long straight has on the tyres.
“That is correct. The straight here is very long and with the Saturday morning cold the tyres cooled quickly.”
What could happen if the temperatures are like this for the race?
“Nothing. We have the soft tyres that can work perfectly if it is cold so we will use them, but judging by the forecast, apparently it won’t be necessary. It wouldn’t have been necessary even if we had been in Argentina. It was a combination of factors: the cold wind, much cooler asphalt and the track layout. In normal conditions, the ones we expect, the race will be run with medium or even hard tyres.”
Franco Morbidelli said that the Moto2 riders were concerned seeing all those crashes in MotoGP, but when they went out on the track, they had no problems.
“Moto2 lapped after MotoGP. The conditions may have been different. In any case, the MotoGP times were faster than in 2016. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that the medium tyres worked well with the conditions we had, but the soft did.”
How much do the bumps affect tyre performance?
“The bumps do not change tyre life. Of course, the tyre is part of the entire suspension system and when there is a pronounced dip, the lap times go up.”
What do you think of what Johann Zarco is doing?
“Zarco impresses me: he is fast but also attentive. I am amazed at how quickly he learns. Sure, he made a mistake in Qatar, but what he is doing is truly impressive.”