until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


MotoGP's major last-minute 2024 rule change explained

by Simon Patterson, Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP has made an 11th-hour change to one of the most controversial new rules in the series mere days ahead of the opening race of 2024.

A breach of the series’ minimum tyre pressures is no longer set to be punished by an instant disqualification - but rather with a 16-second time penalty in Sunday's main event.

First introduced halfway through the 2023 season, penalties for going below control tyre manufacturer Michelin’s 1.88 bar limit meant a number of race results changed in the latter stage of the season, most significantly when Gresini Ducati racer Fabio Di Giannantonio was stripped of a podium at the final race of last year.

Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Ducati, MotoGP

A system of escalating time penalties (and only a warning for first-time offenders) if riders were found to be below the minimum value for more than half of a race distance was set to be changed to an instant disqualification for 2024. This was despite the concerns of most riders on the grid, who believed such a sanction would be too harsh for something at least partly outside their control - given how much tyre pressures are dictated by the circumstances of a race.

Now, penalised riders will at least retain a valid race result - albeit a 16-second penalty for a grand prix (downgraded to an eight-second penalty in a sprint) is still more than enough to make remaining towards the front of the classification impossible.

Crucially, the limit has been lowered - the critical front-tyre pressure is now at 1.80 bar, with race-by-race adjustments possible.

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia, MotoGP

"I'm very happy," said Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro of the lowered minimum front-tyre pressure. "I made a big hug when I saw Piero [Taramasso, Michelin's MotoGP boss].

"Because last year was a nightmare. I remember many races being on the grid and telling my crew chief [Antonio Jimenez]: 'Can you drop it by 0.01'? It was all the time fighting on the limit, with the penalties. And 1.80 is going to be a lot easier.

"It's not going to change the performance, but in terms of our life it's going to be easier."

It is of note, however, that MotoGP has also upped the number of laps riders need to be above the minimum threshold in the main race, from 50% in 2023 to 60% now (albeit with the 30% figure kept for the sprints).

Why it came to this

Michelin MotoGP tyre

The controversial rules on minimum pressures were forced through last year by Michelin against the objections of teams and, in particular, riders.

Michelin claimed that some teams were starting races on deliberately low pressures, in an attempt to cope with the spike in pressure that running behind another rider causes, creating a potentially dangerous situation that risked tyres failing at high speed.

However, riders felt that the danger posed by running too high a pressure (a lack of front end feeling making them more susceptible to crashes) was much greater than running them too low, especially given the lack of citable cases where too low a pressure has caused a dramatic and dangerous failure.

Michelin MotoGP

Aerodynamics and ride height devices have made the series a very different one since Michelin returned as the control tyre manufacturer in 2016 - and its technology has arguably not kept up with the changes.

It's been working on a new front tyre since 2019, and attempted to make racers test it extensively during the 2024 pre-season to mixed results, meaning that it’s highly likely now that it will be 2025 before the rules on minimum pressure become less of a factor in races.

The penalties are still draconian

Despite the pivot away from disqualifications, riders will be very hopeful that the lowering of the minimum tyre pressure threshold provides enough of a cushion - as eight- and 16-second penalties are still very much weekend-ruining.

To illustrate this, The Race has gone through last year's recorded infringements to see how results would've been impacted if the current version of the penalties was in place.

Catalan GP
Maverick Vinales - P2 to P11

San Marino GP
Dani Pedrosa - P4 to P14

Indian GP
Marco Bezzecchi - P5 to P9
Aleix Espargaro - P10 to P12
Raul Fernandez - P13 unchanged
Franco Morbidelli - P14 unchanged

Thai GP
Jorge Martin - P1 to P13
Aleix Espargaro - P4 to P15
Marc Marquez - P5 to P17
Pol Espargaro - P18 unchanged

Malaysian GP
Enea Bastianini - P1 to P4
Pecco Bagnaia - P3 to P9
Luca Marini - P10 to P15
Iker Lecuona - P16 unchanged
Alvaro Bautista - P17 unchanged

Qatar GP
Alex Marquez - P6 to P14
Jack Miller - P9 to P16
Johann Zarco - P12 to P18
Augusto Fernandez - P15 to P19

Valencia sprint
Fabio Di Giannantonio - P6 to P13
Luca Marini - P14 to P17
Franco Morbidelli - P15 to P18

Valencia GP
Fabio Di Giannantonio - P2 to P10
Brad Binder - P4 to P11

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