With title rivals Francesco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin now among 14 riders to have received an Official Tyre Pressure warning, there are fears post-race penalties could have an impact on the MotoGP World Championship outcome.
Riders who commit a repeat offense of low-pressure in any of the remaining four races will receive a post-race time penalty of +3 seconds, or +6 seconds for Aleix Espargaro, who has already violated this rule twice. The riders hope that the outcome of the championship won’t be decided in an office but on the track itself. Pecco Bagnaia, who has received a warning on tire pressure, claims he can handle the altered handling caused by higher tire pressure. However, he is still not pleased with the rule as he believes it doesn’t bring any benefits. Riders on a warning will likely take a more conservative approach by starting with a higher tire pressure. Another strategy is to start with a lower pressure and hope that it rises above the minimum requirement during the race or that the increased performance allows them to gain a significant advantage over the rider behind to avoid a penalty. However, both Bagnaia and Martin believe that taking a gamble is risky as a penalty of 3 seconds can lead to losing several positions. MotoGP practice in Qatar will start on Friday at 15:45 local time.