Motor sport, at least in Europe, has come to a full stop. Ducati, Aprilia, KTM have all closed their factories, not only their racing departments, and precisely at the most important moment of production of the season because usually people start to buy bikes as spring approaches.
Forced to stay at home, the technicians and engineers of the world championship are still hard at work, as far as they can. But is it actually useful to continue development?
We asked Gigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse's number one.
“I personally already worked one day a week from home, and we are all used to working around the world - said General Gigi - the problem is that the factory has stopped all activity, including the production lines and this is supposed to be the time of the year when motorcycles are mostly sold. A problem that exists today and will remain so even when the health emergency is over ... but right now we can only stay at home. It is the only wise solution."
Dall'Igna: "I work from home, but you can only do simulations: the test benches are stopped"
What does a design engineer do at home?
“All in all, little can be done from home. Something on the simulation side, but to develop an engine you need the test room, you need people to be in the race department, assemble the engine and prepare experiments. As well as the simulations, there is also a need to go on the track and therefore for people in the race department to assemble the bikes, leave and go to the circuits to do the tests. So, you can’t really do much."
Also, because, we presume, the suppliers will also have stopped activity...
“For suppliers that’s not really the case: some of those we have are relatively small and not all of them have stopped. There are some, more structured and larger ones, who have difficulty staying open, but the more artisan ones, but still of the highest level and quality, manage to continue their work all the same. "
Dall'Igna: "We should have stamped the engines in Qatar but unfortunately it wasn’t possible"
Maybe it would have been better to stamp the engines and fairings in Losail and end it there.
“To stamp the engines in Losail, we would have had to be there. We should have delivered the prepared engines, but it wasn’t possible. "
What could be the right solution now? We all go on vacation, as F1 has already decided to do?
“Yes, keep in mind that the entire Ducati racing department has already been on vacation since last Friday. We are on vacation."
Dall'Igna: "Doing all the remaining 19 Grands Prix is not a realistic idea"
A calendar was published, then it was updated, but the impression is that it will change again.
"Dorna's intention, just after the cancellation of Qatar, was to hold the largest number of events possible, but I think that's not the case today. I honestly think it is impossible to hold all the races. Before it was also right to try but we did not understand the seriousness of the problem. Now faced with the current situation, it will be impossible to continue in this direction. It is no longer a realistic idea. It is clear that we are facing a huge problem and therefore normal logic cannot be used. You have to use common sense."
Dall'Igna: "Stop development? If this proposal were to arrive, I would reflect on it with common sense"
Possibly disputing the 2021 world championship with the same bikes as 2020…
"If anyone were to make such a proposal, we would reflect on this with common sense."
Do you have any proposals to make from this point of view?
“Deciding what is right to do now is too early: the situation is evolving and the program that could be done today, tomorrow might need to be totally revised. It makes sense to wait a bit and take stock of the situation when you have at least a reliable scenario. "
Dall'Igna: "The world championship will not be cancelled. The situation is serious, 10 Grands Prix would be enough"
Are you concerned that the world championship might be cancelled, as it was during the two world wars?
“I honestly don't think so. Even with fewer races I think it is in everyone's interest to do the 2020 world championship. This is my opinion. I am optimistic. Hold it over 13 races instead of 19? Even if the number was less than this, I would not be ashamed to call it the world championship; reasonably with about 10 races it would still be a balanced world championship. And then also insisting on a number of 13 races is something that doesn’t make sense: with such a serious situation the rules can be changed for the overall good of the system ".
Dall'Igna: "Without this drama we would have had a more balanced championship than in 2019"
What sort of world championship would we have seen if it had started as scheduled in Qatar?
"It would probably have been a much more balanced championship than last year. It’s certainly true that such a long stop can change many things also from the point of view of the riders: with a rider who mentally and physically prepares for Qatar and is then forced to start competing three months later, it’s not a foregone conclusion that when he starts again he is in the same form as before. Both physically and mentally. His situation might have changed significantly, but I wouldn’t speak of a falsified championship in this case. These are things that are part of the game. It happened and you have to adapt. "
Have you been speaking until now about how to manage the current situation?
"There have been no talks at the moment, but I expect that we will have to reflect on things in the next few days because some decisions will surely have to be taken".