"It's a question of principle," this is how Suzuki team manager Davide Brivio's position can be summarized. He was asked why he decided to join the protest against Ducati and its now famous "spoon" mounted on the Desmosedici GP19 in Qatar.
"Last year, all the manufacturers discussed the issue of aerodynamics, and we all agreed to set some rules, in order to limit the uncontrolled increase in research and development costs in this area," was the manager's premise. "The decision, which eventually became the new regulation, was to make each manufacturer homologate a set of fairings before the start of the Championship, with only one change allowed during the season. The rest of the bike should not have additional aerodynamic appendages, with specific reference to those that create downforce."
The common line, therefore, was to limit research on aerodynamics so as to limit costs. In a certain sense, the same philosophy behind freezing the development of engines was applied. According to Brivio, however, Ducati had betrayed the spirit of the regulation.
“A few weeks ago, Ducati presented an appendage to the technical director for the rear swingarm and a front wheel cover, explaining that their purpose was to cool the rear tire," continued Davide. "The technical director accepted and approved these new added components, considering them tire cooling systems, and issued new guidelines regarding the technical regulation."
In fact, two circulars were sent to the manufacturers: the first on March 2nd, and the second 3 days later. Danny Aldridge had, therefore, approved the appendages on the Ducati, but this was not enough to convince many teams.
"The engineers working for the four manufacturers who submitted the complaint believe that these appendages have an aerodynamic effect, generating downforce and are, therefore, contrary to the principles of the regulation," explains Davide. "We called a meeting with the technical director to ask for explanations and clarifications to this regard, and we were not satisfied with the answers provided."
The second step was to speak directly with Dall'Igna, warning him of a protest if he were to use the "spoon" in the race. So, not only did Massimo Rivola, CEO of Aprilia Racing, contact Borgo Panigale's management, but so did Brivio. Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati's sports director, confirmed that he had received these warnings.
"I then spoke privately with Ducati, and also with others, to express our dissatisfaction with their interpretation, anticipating an official complaint if they decided to still use the new added components," said Brivio. "Nevertheless, this happened: Ducati fitted the motorcycles of three of their riders with the new appendages, so we presented the complaint. We did it to clarify the situation, once and for all."
Suzuki's manager, therefore, wants a definitive clarification from FIM and the technical director, in order to get out of the gray area in which the MotoGP seems to have entered.
"We expect to get a clear position from FIM, the technical direction, and all the competent authorities. By presenting this complaint, we force them to evaluate, judge, and clarify the principles of the rules, regulations, and guidelines. As I said before, this is the main purpose of our actions: to clarify what we can and cannot do."
Now it's up to FIM's Court of Appeal, which will have to put an end to this story.