The situation regarding the concessions to be provided to Honda and Yamaha in 2024 continues to be thorny. It is no mystery that Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta, would like to help the Japanese manufacturers catch up on the European ones by granting them help in the next championship. However, the manufacturers' association, the MSMA, is struggling to find a unanimous agreement on the issue, with Aprilia and KTM who, according to what our Speedweek colleagues have reported, would prefer to hinder Ducati rather than grant advantages to the Japanese manufacturers.
Already on the occasion of the appointment in Misano, Pit Beirer, Motorsport Director of the Pierer Mobility Group, was keen to underline how the gap between the Ducati and the rest of the grid was greater than the difference between KTM and Aprilia and Yamaha and Honda. “If Yamaha needs concessions, KTM and Aprilia should get them too. Because Yamaha has beaten us three times with Fabio in the last six races" Beirer declared to the German news outlet, highlighting the growth achieved by the Iwata manufacturer in the latest overseas rounds. Given that Quartararo achieved two third places and two Top 5s in the Grands Prix between India and Malaysia.
“In recent years, Honda perhaps should have invested more in the development of the bikes rather than in the salaries of the riders,” added the former German rider, speaking of the situation of the Tokyo manufacturer, which according to current regulations would not be entitled to any concessions, despite the difficulties encountered in recent seasons. This is because Honda managed to score two podiums in 2022, which were followed this year by the victory of Alex Rins in Texas and third place achieved with Marc Marquez in Japan. Showing other flashes of competitiveness with the rider from Cervera, such as the pole position achieved in Portugal, and the sixth and seventh places obtained respectively in the GPs at Buriram and Misano.
An uncomfortable situation for Ezpeleta
Given that the Japanese manufacturers do not seem to be performing so badly as to benefit from the concessions, with a view to rebalancing the championship, the CEO of Aprilia Racing, Massimo Rivola, had asked to limit the maximum number of customer teams for each manufacturer to two. In order to put a brake on Ducati, which can collect more data than anyone else on settings and tyres, supplying the bikes to as many as three teams. While Yamaha currently finds itself without any satellite team, after losing Razlan Razali's RNF team at the end of 2022, in favour of the Noale manufacturer.
The General Manager of Ducati Corse, Gigi Dall'Igna, however, was keen to reiterate that the number of bikes fielded is not as important as their quality, calling into question the situation of the Veneto manufacturer.
“Aprilia did not have a satellite team in 2022, but fought for the World Championship for a long time. In 2023 it is fielding a customer team for the first time, but it cannot be said that it has become stronger as a result" said the engineer, whose words are reflected in the fact that Dorna supports every MotoGP manufacturer that supplies a customer team with 3 million euros per year, but no additional money is foreseen for the second and third satellite teams.
Irreconcilable visions therefore, which place Carmelo Ezpeleta in an uncomfortable situation. As owner of the commercial rights of the championship, Dorna would like to have a spectacular sport, but at the same time finds itself in the position of having to accommodate the large Japanese companies, for economic reasons, and in the impossibility of hitting Ducati for the work it has done.
“We certainly cannot penalize Ducati for being innovative and for having studied the regulations as best as possible. They do everything within the current regulations - Ezpeleta acknowledged - Now some opponents are asking us to take away some things from Ducati. I can't go to them and say, 'I'm sorry, you're too good. We need to slow you down.' In Formula 1, Red Bull Racing is not being slowed down, just as Mercedes was not restricted for years."
To get out of this impasse, the championship organizer will therefore have to take matters into his own hands and seek a compromise to submit to the five manufacturers. The path traced for the future therefore seems destined to grant advantages to the Japanese manufacturers and restrictions to Ducati which, at the apparent request of Aprilia and KTM, should only be able to have 140 tyres available for testing per year, compared to the 170 granted to the other manufacturers.
The rivals' proposal to assign fewer than the usual 21 tyres to Ducati per weekend in 2024 is less feasible, seeing as the riders of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer would thus find themselves having to carry out the time attack with used tyres, increasing the risks. In addition to the fact that the MotoGP regulations are fixed until the end of 2026 and there has never been any thought of intervening due to the manifest superiority of a manufacturer such as that shown this year by Ducati.
Concessions under consideration for Honda and Yamaha in 2024:
- engine development not frozen since the start of the season;
- Two more engines per rider than the Europeans, i.e. ten instead of eight;
- Four test tracks instead of three;
- Two aerodynamic updates per rider per season instead of one;
- Any additional test days for the starting riders, such as participation in the three-day Shakedown in Sepang.
Restrictions under consideration for Ducati:
- Two instead of six wildcards per year (or none), so that there are not nine Ducatis out of 23 starters, as in Sepang;
- 140 instead of 170 tyres per season.