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GP Week : Issue 120
GPWEEK OPINION >> with only 15 riders on the grid for the last two races ... MotoGP has its own rule-meddlers, but the structure of the sport’s management makes the planning of the changes very lop-sided. The technical decisions belong to the factories. Changes hitherto were not angled towards improving the racing. This technical control is perfectly expressed by the 800cc MotoGP bikes. They were introduced to increase safety and prevent top speeds continually rising. Instead the rules spawned a generation of low-torque high-rev electronic-festooned bikes that work only on one corner line, and at such high corner speeds that over taking, if it now happens, is as often as not investigated as “dangerous riding”. At the same time as returning capacity back to one litre for next year, Dorna finally turned its back on this sterile and stultifying technical control. New rules were levered past the factory barrier, allowing production-based bikes in from next year, either as “Claiming Rule Teams” or as “Constructors”. The former get 12 engines and three extra litres of fuel, the latter nine engines, until they win a GP in the dry and the same 21 litres as the “factory” teams (a category that includes satellite lease teams). This will at least boost grid numbers, and there is a chance that the extra torque of the bigger engines will give the riders a few more options in cornering lines, and allow some variety. This is far from certain: the electronics and control tyres of the 800s will carry over. At least there is something to hope for. Until then, we have the rest of this season to get through. The more rain, the better, seems to me. made his first mistake of the year. Tellingly, though, he still picked up points for second and increased his lead in the championship. Button hailed it as possibly his best ever drive. But it wasn’t faultless, as the stewards will tell you. I am very glad – and was confident this would be the case – that the stewards chose not to penalise Button for his contact with Fernando and Lewis. But, looking to the Hamilton incident in particular, I would point the finger at JB. Lewis had his nose down the inside early, he was much faster, and Jenson didn’t see him. He looked in the mirror, but only saw spray. Hamilton saw Jenson look in his mirror, committed, and was shocked when Button continued to pull left, following the racing line. It was a racing incident and undeserving of a penalty – but it wasn’t quite 50/50, and I say Hamilton was the victim. Niki Lauda called him “mad” and said that if he goes unpunished “someone’s going to get killed”. Utter balls, I thought, but then I heard an RBR mechanic who was on the pitwall at the time of the McLaren contact was lucky not to lose and arm. So one must never joke about these things. Going into the race there had already been a lot of talk about Lewis’ driving standards. Emerson Fittipaldi (who was stewarding in Canada) weighed in to say that Hamilton had been too aggressive in Monaco. Now I don’t disagree with that, but he went on to say Ayrton Senna wouldn’t have taken such risks. Er, yeah he would. Go talk to Martin Brundle about that. Ayrton (right) would put his car in a position where contact was inevitable and left it to the other guy to decide if he wanted an accident or not. Senna is clearly an inspiration to Hamilton, as a driver and as a man. Senna, as anyone who’s seen the movie will know – and if you haven’t you must see it – believed he was an outsider battling the dark forces of the establishment. Hamilton’s post-Monaco comments hinted that that is his mindset also. He must know his title chances are almost nil now. It will be fascinating to see how he responds. No doubt he’ll be asking himself what Ayrton would do in such a situation. It’s simple: go out and win. And to do that, you have to take a few risks. POOR RELATIONS AGAIN Button: brilliant but not blameless 21