When something goes wrong, the tires are usually to blame. Piero Taramasso, Michelin’s manager on the racing fields, knows very well that this is one of the unwritten rules of racing and is prepared again this time.
The MotoGP front tires are showing some limits – and it doesn’t hide it – but, as often happens, what you see is not everything.
“The bikes have changed a lot, even just in the last two years, and consequently the riding style of the riders – explains Taramasso -. Everyone tries to buy time in the braking area, it is an evolution of the style introduced by Marc Marquez, who starts very late and very hard. Furthermore, the aerodynamics have also progressed a lot and from our data we see that there is now much more load on the front, especially because of the wings: increasing the weight on the front tire also increases the stress. Some fairings also affect tire temperatures, not to mention the brakes which release more and more heat. Finally, there are the lowerers that give more grip“.
What is the consequence?
“The front tire is always under stress, there is no time for it to rest and cool down. Before the introduction of the lowerers, during acceleration the weight went to the rear and the front tire was less stressed, but now it is always stressed. All these factors put together mean that the operating pressures and temperatures at the front are always higher. When a tire overheats it loses grip and performance“.
Does this apply to everyone equally?
“There are those who manage to adapt and those who cannot drive, even with a minimal increase in pressure. The same goes for motorcycles: some manufacturers have found solutions to keep pressure and temperature under control“.
So if you overtake less it is not “fault“ tires?CopyAMP code.
“It’s easy to say, but it’s the bikes that have changed and the stress on the front tire has increased. Our MotoGP tire has been the same for 5 years“.
But you had plans to change it, before the Covid pandemic ruined your plans.
“We had noticed this tendency to put more and more load on the front tire and we had started working on its evolution. We had done two tests, one in Barcelona and one in Misano, but Covid prevented us from continuing with the tests. However, we are working on a new tire and would like to present it at the end of this season, to then continue with tests in 2023 and introduce it to the race in 2024. This tire will be less sensitive to changes in pressure and temperature.“.
Is there therefore a difficulty in overtaking?
“I do not deny this problem, if we want to call it that, but it does not occur everywhere. In the first part of the season we saw a lot of overtaking, it depends on the track and above all on the climatic conditions, the great heat and humidity worsen the situation. There are circuits where it is historically more difficult to overtake and others less, without forgetting the importance of driving style“.