MotoGP updates dashboard messages after Quartararo saga

Fabio Quartararo with his race suit open in Catalunya. Picture: Fox Sports

New dashboard messages will be introduced in MotoGP this weekend, including one in response to Fabio Quartararo’s controversial, bare-chested finish to the Catalan Grand Prix.

Two new messages will be available at Round 11, the Austrian Grand Prix, and beyond, one which relates to problems with rider equipment and the other to provide warnings about rider behaviour.

The developments come after Quartararo rode the final four laps of the Barcelona-Catalunya grand prix with his leathers open, for which he was issued a three-second penalty post-race.

The ‘equipment’ referred to in MotoGP’s announcement encompasses leathers, but also boots, gloves, and helmets.

Race director Mike Webb explained, “For many years we’ve had dashboard messages where Race Direction can send messages to riders on the bike; flag signals and information about penalties, things like that. From time to time, more signals.

“But a couple of things have come up recently; one is at the Catalan GP, we had something that has never happened before, where a rider’s equipment – leathers – wasn’t functioning correctly and we needed to tell the rider to fix it.

“And there isn’t really an appropriate signal. We have signals about a mechanical failure on the bike, signals about disqualifications and things like that, but we decided after this incident that we needed a specific signal about rider equipment because it’s different to a mechanical failure, where if a bike is leaking oil or water or something, it’s important the bike goes off the track immediately.

“In the case of a problem or fastening undone on rider equipment, or something that’s not immediately a problem but needs to be fixed, it’s a different situation.

“So, we have a new signal on the dashboard, it shows ‘equipment’ on the rider dashboard and the meaning has been explained to the riders and teams: there is a problem with your equipment and you’re required to fix it immediately.

“If that means coming into the pits to fix it, OK. Or if you can fix it yourself on track, that’s also OK.

“What we require is that you fix it immediately, so there’s a new message about rider equipment.”

The other new message is said to have arisen due to a request from FIM MotoGP stewards about a need to warn riders about their behaviour.

“The other update is a request from the FIM MotoGP Stewards about rider behaviour,” added Webb.

“There are times when a rider may do something we don’t like, but it is borderline and could have been a misjudgement or a mistake.

“However, if they repeat that behaviour and prove it was neither, it will incur a penalty.

“So, the Stewards want a warning signal to say ‘Hey, don’t do that. We’re watching and if you do it again there will be a penalty’.

“So there’s a new display on the dashboard called ‘warning’ and it’s specifically about rider behaviour. The warning signal says to the rider ‘what you’re doing, we don’t like it. Pay attention and if you continue there could be a penalty’.

“That’s the two new messages to improve communication between Race Direction and the riders.”

As to why there has been a lag between the Quartararo incident and the introduction of the new messages, a period which included a five-week summer break, Webb said manufacturers needed time to modify their systems.

“Messages on the dashboard take a bit of lead time,” explained Webb.

“The manufacturers of the dashboards and motorcycles have to adjust their systems, and the timekeeping, to send the messages, they all have to get ready and it takes a little time so we’ve agreed on the messages, the technical part is being changed now and these messages will be available from the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend.”

Coincidentally, Quartararo’s Monster Energy Yamaha team-mate Maverick Viñales apparently experienced gremlins with his dashboard messaging at last weekend’s Michelin Grand Prix of Styria.

In addition to several other dramas which befell the Spaniard, Viñales’ dashboard kept showing a ‘pit lane’ message, explaining the fact that he finished the race via pit lane.

He also claims to have not seen any ‘long lap’ penalty notification on his dashboard, but observed the sanction once he read it on his pit board.

The Austrian Grand Prix begins with practice this Friday evening, while next year’s MotoGP season will also be shown on Fox Sports under a newly announced television rights deal.

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