MotoGP and Formula 1 are lining up, side-by-side, on an imaginary starting line: the engines are screaming but the traffic lights are red, and they cannot power away... The two top motorsport series, in recent weeks, have had to face a new and unpredictable crisis. The coronavirus epidemic has affected all aspects of life and also sports. The Olympics have been postponed for the first time in their history and every sport has been stopped.
Cars and motorbikes are in the same boat, so to speak, and are thinking of similar solutions to get out of this deadlock. The problems are identical: how to get a large number of people to move around in times when travel is limited and the safety distances between people are fundamental.
Behind closed doors is almost a certainty
Racing behind closed doors, without a crowd, with guests and staff reduced to a minimum, now seems a necessity rather than a possibility. FIM, FIA, Dorna and Liberty Media (respectively the Federations and the organizers of the two championships) have had this idea in mind for some time, at least for the first Grands Prix.
Streamlining the number of people who move helps to make the organization easier, in order to achieve the only goal that everyone is interested in: racing and broadcasting races on TV. Television rights are now the most important entry in the budget and that money is needed to keep teams that are now suffering standing.
It is better to race in a desert (losing ticket money) but with the cameras running: that is the bottom line.
Europe and the Red Bull Ring for the restart
Both championships are also thinking about using the same circuit for the restart and it is that of the Red Bull Ring. Recent rumours indicate the Austrian track as the venue for the first F1 GP on 5 July. MotoGP has the same track on the calendar on August 16 and it also maintains it could be the right place to start.
Why? First of all, Austria, among the European nations, is the one that has contained the epidemic with the most success, some shops have reopened and there are already plans to start with football games again (behind closed doors, of course). This gives hope that within two months the situation will get back to normal even further.
Another aspect to consider, no less decisive, is that the circuit (as the name implies) is owned by Red Bull, a sponsor that has a massive presence in both series. It would maybe not be as important for Red Bull, as other local promoters, to collect the ticket money to support the Grand Prix and this might be a small advantage in the event of a race being held behind closed doors.
Two races, same circuit
So, both MotoGP and F1 are thinking of Europe to start again by taking advantage of the summer. The plan is to concentrate the most GPs this season in order to take advantage of the good weather, and then move to Asia when autumn arrives, and the weather could become a problem in Europe.
Both championships are also thinking of organizing two consecutive weekend races on the same circuit. The four-wheels are looking to Silverstone, a strategic track for that championship because 7 of the 10 teams taking part are based in the UK.
In this sense, Italy and Spain are strategic for the MotoGP World Championship, because most of the teams of all classes are based in these two countries. Just in the premier class alone, Italy provides Ducati, Aprilia, Pramac, Yamaha and Suzuki.
One advantage, which should not be counted out, is that in the two countries there is also a high number of homologated circuits that are relatively close to each other. It would not be a pipedream therefore to race one Sunday at Misano and the following one at Mugello, or first in Barcelona and then at Aragon, to give some examples.
As for F1, MotoGP would then be ready to head off to warmer countries for autumn and, probably, also for the beginning of winter.
The show must go on … but first it must begin.