Less technology and « more power to the pilots »

MotoGP has undergone a curious evolution in recent years. Aided by a stabilized rulebook, the bikes have become increasingly competitive across the grid. The gaps have narrowed considerably and more and more drivers are now able to win. Last weekend, again, Enea Bastianini beat Pecco Bagnaia, yet riding an official version of the Ducati while he has a 2021 spec.

According Giacomo Agostinia Grand Prix legend with 15 world titles to his name, today there is a lack of meaning in what MotoGP has become. « I don’t think there’s so much wrong with the show, but the audience needs a point of reference, » so believes the former Italian pilot when we ask him about the supposed lack of spectacle that the governing bodies are thinking about.

« Bagnaia wins, Bastianini wins, a driver who is a rookie in the category can win. Several drivers can win, but they can also be tenth in the next race so people wonder who is really good », continues Giacomo Agostini in an interview with the Dutch edition of Motorsport.com carried out on the sidelines of the Classic GP in Assen. « It’s too random, but the battles are not fake. Today there is clearly a lot of technology, everyone has access to the same equipment. I don’t think there are 23 Maradonas, 23 Verstappens or 23 Muhammad Ali on the grid. [Mais] we see that everyone is standing in the same second, which is crazy. »

From Giacomo Agostini’s point of view, the pilot makes less and less of a difference in the performance produced. « Since there is a lot of technology, the engine becomes very important. If there is a small detail missing in the engine, you may be a great champion, it will not work. And for the others, it is It’s getting easier and easier to climb higher. In my day, the movement of the wrist was very important, the pilot was in control. Now the electronics take over immediately and it’s not the pilot who does it anymore. »

« We also see that for a very long time we worked to obtain more and more power », adds the former pilot, who is surprised that this development ends up pushing the modification of the tracks to deal with the safety issues posed by the constant increase in speed. The Red Bull Ring, for example, entered a chicane this year as a result of a horrific accident involving Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli in 2020.

Giacomo Agostini and Mark Bremer, Dutch Motorsport.com reporter

« We modify the engine, we have 290hp, but then we put a chicane on the track to take away the speed. Why do we invest a lot of money in order to find more power and speed, and then put a chicane? some circuits MotoGP don’t even reach sixth gear. A lot of circuits are still the same as in my day. There’s just more safety, more space, but the track and its character is still the same . Before, it was very beautiful. It’s a complicated problem. »

We need to give more power to the pilots. It’s not because an engine makes 300hp that the show is necessarily good.

Giacomo Agostini

A complicated problem, but with a simple solution, according to Agostini: « You have to give more power to the pilots. It’s not because an engine makes 300hp that the show is necessarily good. In my time, we didn’t have 300hp, but the show was beautiful. Valentino Rossi doesn’t hadn’t had such powerful bikes in his career, yet he put on a show. The show is you and me doing it, it’s a person thing, it’s not because a bike is so fast. It doesn’t matter if you complete laps in 2’05 or 2’10, what we want is a duel. The 200,000 people in the stands are not sitting with a stopwatch at hand. It’s important to see a duel, otherwise the drivers can’t put on a show. »

« If you reduce the power a little, the engines also become less dangerous », continues the champion of the 1960s and 1970s. “The riders have to brake hard enough to slow down a 160 kg engine from 300 km/h to normal speed. But in the event of an accident, the engine goes off like a cannonball, it is very dangerous. If you reduce the power, you increase safety, the tire lasts longer… Who wins in this case? The best driver. That’s what we want. »

MotoGP needs a new icon

A regular visitor to the MotoGP paddock, Giacomo Agostini also knows Formula 1 and was also recently in Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, where he waved the checkered flag at the finish of the race. While the premier category of motorsport has a few stars on its grid, like Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton Where Max Verstappenthe Italian believes that this is somewhat lacking in MotoGP where a generational change is taking place.

« MotoGP is beautiful, the races are beautiful, but you need a real star again after the retirement of Valentino and the injuries of Marc Márquez. That’s what we expect now, [parmi] the young pilots who arrive at the top. Fans want to see drivers do things they can’t do themselves, people want to be surprised by what a driver does. »

Classic GP Assen zaterdag 17-9-2022 photo Damon Teerink-8381

Giacomo Agostini at the Classic GP of Assen

« That’s what Max Verstappen does, he wins a lot and he’s become a hero. We [avait] this with Maradona in football or Eddy Merckx in cycling. And I remember waking up in the middle of the night to watch Cassius Clay boxing [Mohammed Ali] : he was doing things that no one else could do, and people want to see that. This is what we expect today in MotoGP. »

After the departure of Valentino Rossi at the end of last season and that of Andrea Dovizioso this month, MotoGP has practically undergone a complete generational change. From the 2010 line-up in the premier category, only Aleix Espargaró is still present today, he who saw his career explode later in life.

When asked if the new generation has what it takes to fill the void left by the departure of the old, Giacomo Agostini is positive: it’s only a matter of time. « We have these guys in power, for sure. Marc Márquez is back, he is very aggressive and likes to entertain the public. He always runs flat out and wants to make the spectators happy. But he also needs people with whom he can compete, a Bagnaia or a Quartararo; Bastianini will be there, too. »

« Quartararo is already a champion and he is only now starting to fight against Bagnaia. If Márquez can join them, it will only be good for the sport. That’s what we expect. »

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