The 2021 MotoGP campaign kicks off this Friday at the Losail circuit with a double appointment, the Qatar GP (March 28) and the Doha GP (April 4). If last year the Two-Wheel World Cup held a championship with 14 races on European soil despite the difficulties derived from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, they aspire to a kind of return to normality as the year progresses.
THE INITIAL ACTIVITY IN THE SAME CIRCUIT OF LOSAIL
Concentrating all the initial activity in the Losail circuit has been the formula found by FIM and Dorna to ensure the start of the championship on the initially scheduled date of March 28 and thus overcome the difficulties that arise due to the Covid-19 pandemic that upsets all the plans for a year. Already in January the draft was rewritten when the American tour fell and a second appointment was added in Qatar, the Doha GP (April 4). The tests planned in Sepang (MotoGP) and Jerez (Moto2 and Moto3) also fell and they moved to Qatar in order to have all the equipment and a good part of the grid at the starting point.
THE PADDOCK VACCINATED THANKS TO THE STATE OF QATAR
If last year they decisively managed to complete a championship with 14 races (15 for Moto2 and Moto3), this year Dorna has been guaranteed, and despite the criticism for skipping the turn to vaccinate the most vulnerable population of each country earlier, the main players return to normality by accepting the offer to immunize the entire paddock for free with the Pfizer vaccine issued by the state of Qatar. Ezpeleta claims that “it is logical to do what is possible as long as it is correct. Sport is much more than a few gentlemen running, it is an illusion, from being at home in dust to being able to see your team playing or your driver is a social good ”.
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A MINIMUM OF 18 RACES
Whatever happens with the successive waves that are expected from the pandemic, they want to complete a championship with a minimum of 18 races. Right now there are 19 GGPPs on the 2021 calendar and only two, Argentina and Texas, have been postponed to the end of the campaign. Portimao already entered to be the third GP when it was a circuit that was planned as a substitute. For 2021, the same strict sanitary protocol is maintained with the minimum essential staff in the paddock, also forming different bubbles.
THE PUBLIC WILL DEPEND ON THE MEASURES OF EACH COUNTRY
The presence of the public in the stands and without access to the paddock will depend on the sanitary measures adopted by each country. Qatar will let in 30%, but it is a GP always low (its best Sunday is almost 14,000 spectators and most of them are expatriate Europeans). Portugal (April 18) has already said no to open to the public and the rest will be seen according to the pandemic. Jerez, for the moment, is still on Alert 2 and therefore without an audience right now and Catalonia is putting tickets on sale and drawing up a special protocol with a pre-assigned seat and 31,000 seats for sale in case the Procicat gives them the OK to open the doors by 50%, as is happening right now, for the GP on June 6.
TECHNICAL DEVELOPMENT FROZEN
At a technical level there are hardly any news for this 2021 since the engines of the four factories that did not have concessions in 2020 (Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and Suzuki) have been frozen for a year and KTM, which lost them during 2020 due to its good results , you have been allowed to seal it now. At the aerodynamic level, they are only allowed one update. Ducati has adopted a flow conveyor on the sides to achieve a front negative loading effect and Yamaha and Honda introduced an open top front fender to limit wheel lift. The improvements have to look for in other parts like chassis, electronics, exhausts, forks and others. Only Aprilia continues with the technical free bar and they have thoroughly revised the engine of their RS-GP, perfecting their new four-cylinder 90º V, the electronics and its aerodynamics.
MOTOGP, WITH 12 WORLD CHAMPIONS
Despite the constant renewal, the star grid will have 12 world champions this year, equaling the records of 2015, 2018 and last year. Together they have accumulated 30 titles, two from the 2018 record. 11 of the riders have won a MotoGP race, two more than in 2020, and together they accumulate 169 victories adding the three categories. 19 of the 22 drivers on the grid have at least one victory in the World Championship for a total of 379. Only Aleix Espargaró, Lorenzo Savadori and Iker Lecuona are blank.
THE OLDEST AND THE YOUNGEST
Valentino Rossi at 42 years and 40 days is yet another year the oldest rider on the star grid and Valencian Iker Lecuona at 21 years and 81 days is also still the youngest on the day of the Qatar GP. Eight of the drivers on the grid were born after ‘Dottore’ made his World Cup debut at the Malaysian GP in Shah Alam on March 31, 1996, including reigning world champion Joan Mir.
THE COMMITMENTS FOR THE 2022-26 PERIOD WILL BE SIGNED
2021 is also an important year for the World Speed Championship because the constructors and independent teams have to sign their commitment to the championship to continue for another five years. Of the six factories, KTM, Ducati, Honda and Yamaha have already signed their continuity and before Jerez (early May) Suzuki and Aprilia are expected to do the same. Regarding private teams, the intentions of Poncharal’s Tech3, Cechinello’s LCR and Gresini Racing are already known, despite the loss by Covid-19 of their boss Fausto Gresini. Petronas SRT and Pramac Racing have yet to be renewed and Avintia Racing is in principle saying goodbye this 2021. Sky VR46 Racing is on the waiting list and Dorna also has an extra place with two motorcycles that has not been occupied since the goodbye of Marc VDS. Technically they will continue in this five years with the same regulations so as not to charge costs and the evolution would be sufficient and it would be from 2026 when changes would be proposed.