In the beginning there was the war on winglets, remember? When they appeared on the Ducati, taking the other manufacturers by surprise, many observers rushed to say that they were dangerous in case of contact. As if a motorcycle were not made of protruding elements, such as footrests for example.
Not even small collisions, during which the winglets regularly broke off because they were designed for that purpose, were enough to convince the legislators. Looking at what they have become today - equally prominent but certainly immovable - one wonders what the legislator has in mind.
First it was the winglets, then it was the turn of the 'spoon', wrongly or rightly accused of creating aerodynamic downforce, and today it is time for the device that helps improve the start. The so-called 'holeshot', the lowering device. Initially designed to improve the release motion of the bike at the start, today it is also used during the race to improve acceleration. And there is no doubt that it works: it is simple physics.
Of course there are those who are ahead (Ducati), those who are already at a good point (Yamaha) and those who are behind and playing catch-up (Honda). And so it’s time for complaints. Just hear what Marc Marquez had to say on the matter before Le Mans.
Marquez: "Physically, the body has a limit, the bikes are increasingly tiring"
“The bikes are becoming more and more physical. For example, the rear tyre at Portimao and Jerez didn't drop at all, it was very consistent. This, on the one hand, is good, but on the other, physically, for the riders, it is much more stressful. The other problem is with the holeshot devices. It is normal for many riders to have forearm surgery. I tried for four or five laps and I said to myself: 'So I won't finish the race'. Because when you put it in, it's like the bike is more powerful, it pushes harder, the wheelie feeling is different. Physically, the body has a limit. Currently the races are more static: everyone goes at their own pace. For the show we need more overtaking. And for TV, devices like holeshots are worse ”.
Marquez: "For TV, devices like the holeshot don't help the show"
Marc's criticism is accurate, because as he is not physically at 100%, he is more aware of the fatigue. After all, the days when the rider thought about riding and that's all are long gone. With the arrival of electronics, the maps to be changed have arrived, and now the holeshot ... The commitment, even psychological, is certainly changing and the example of F1 is devastating, the steering wheels now do not even have the same shape , they are more like video game gamepads. But for anyone who has ridden a motorcycle or a car on the circuit, he knows that it is one thing to make turns on horseback, another while seated. The physical effort is quite different. And then there is the movement: in the car the body is stationary, on the bike it tilts, left and right, there is the immersion in space to complicate things. But let's move on.
“In the beginning it is a good system to have - continued Marc - Because it is safe: as the bike is lower, it is more stable. But I am totally against it. It's one more thing we need to think about as riders on the bike. It is also obvious that you are going faster and faster. With the holeshot you increase acceleration time so the bike picks up more speed and decreases braking time. In this way, in the event of a mistake, you arrive faster in the curve. I don't think it's good for safety: it's less and less. Here, at Le Mans, with the rain, we will see. If we have it, it will also be used in the wet. You can arrive with the bike lower and the front could lock up and it would be a bad crash. And then it will be more difficult to overtake. It is of course almost impossible in the acceleration zones, it will have to be done in the tight corners. The Ducati riders are in favour of it, but I think most of them were against using it in the race ”.
Warning: Marquez's analysis is accurate and can be shared in almost all aspects. And speaking of braking, it is exactly what was said years ago for F1 and then for motorcycles, when carbon discs arrived thus reducing space for deceleration, inevitably making overtaking more difficult.
After all, this is what races are for, to make vehicles make progress and go faster. And when road-going super sports bikes are more advanced in certain sectors than Grand Prix ones – just look at cornering ABS - what on earth are we talking about?
Everything changes and the 'very light' F1 single-seaters in 2022 will be close to one ton!
The Olympic motto 'Citius! Altius! Fortius! ’, which stands for faster, higher, stronger, explains and says it all: sportsmen (and riders are exactly that) are being asked for more and more. More training, more strength, more focus. I believe that Barry Sheene never spent one hour of his life in a gym and we all know what was the favourite type of training of Nori Haga and Marco Lucchinelli. Not that Barry was outdone, eh… anyway, there’s no point in complaining and we expect MotoGP bikes to be more and more performing. And maybe even heavier. It will also happen in F1
In fact, next season, the use of 18-inch tyres and the new safety-related specifications will require a further weight increase (it has already increased by a hundredweight since the start of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014).
Single-seaters in 2022 will have to weigh at least 790 kg dry, this means that by adding a full tank of fuel, the driver and the seat will come very close to the ton: about 980 kg. Compared to the latest generation of F1 single-seaters powered by aspirated V8 engines of 2013, the weight increase is 143kg.
At this point it is …pointless regretting the 115 kg 500cc bikes… today not even a Honda SH scooter weighs so little. It's progress, guys…