Obviously an important part of the technical package is the tyres. Bridgestone have signed Ducati for this year, and set up a Tyre Test Team, how did Bridgestone reassure you that Suzuki would still get 100% commitment from them and how does tyre development work?
Bridgestone will develop what we need to go fast. They're working very hard with Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ducati. The good news is that Bridgestone are just so professional and so quick to react to everything that we need. The other good news is they will give us every single bit of information from Ducati's feedback on the tyres and they will let us know exactly what is going on with the Kawasaki guys.
That's great, but the bad news is that of course those guys will get all our information. But that's how it should be, we need six riders developing these tyres not two and the results are going to come a lot more quickly. So we're very happy the other teams are on board with Bridgestone.
We're really happy with the steps they've taken. They've pretty much built a tyre around John Hopkins' riding style - the high corner speed and high edge grip requirement - and he's starting to use those tyres to the full now. I couldn't be more impressed, there are going to be one or two tracks potentially that they struggle at, but the level is just getting so high so quickly, it's pretty impressive.
A lot is made of budgets in MotoGP - how possible is it for a team to 'punch above its budget'? For example, if you lined-up the manufacturers by their budgets at the start of the year, would that match the positions in the manufacturers' championship at the end of the year?
I think it's possible for the teams to make a difference, as it was in BSB last year when we beat HRC with the Rizla Suzuki bike. I don't think the analogy is any different; whether it's Rizla Suzuki in BSB or Proton KR, or whatever, in MotoGP. Sure, budget makes a massive difference but to a certain level, the most beneficial thing about MotoGP as a sport is that the rider can still make the difference - everyone saw that by the results Valentino Rossi
achieved last year.
The rider is still the fundamental thing; the bike and the package and the team has to be there, but a rider can and will make a difference and given that that's the case I'm very positive that grand prix has a healthy future as long as it continues to be a sport whereby the rider makes the difference.
There are some significant new rules for this year, regarding one qualifying session and flag-to-flag racing, what's your opinion of them?
I like the qualifying - it's going to be a very high pressure session - but I really like it. It makes great sense in qualifying being a show that everyone can get their heads round and see who is going to be on pole within that one hour; there's no mucking about with the previous day's times so I think it's going to be a great thing for the MotoGP show.
With regard to the situation with flag-to-flag. It has gone through a lot of changes and I think it's got to a point now where it's the best compromise we're going to get and (most people are) happy and they just want to stop talking about it and go racing. I think in terms of safety and the show it's not a bad balance.