The MotoGP World Championship is tipped to make three main cost-cutting rule changes for the 2010 season.
In the face of the global financial crisis, and the recent withdraw of the factory Kawasaki team - potentially lowering grid numbers to just 17 this season, unless Kawasaki agrees to the formation of a privateer team to run its ZX-RRs - there has been mounting pressure to slash the cost of competing in the premier class, to prevent further departures and encourage new entries.
With only minor changes possible in time for the 2009 season, Motociclismo
reports that the Grand Prix Commission will meet in March to approve more radical plans for 2010: Limiting each rider to one bike, banning carbon brakes and forcing each engine to last for three grand prix weekends.
The removal of carbon brakes may prompt calls of 'dumbing down', but has no significant side effects, while limiting each rider to one bike will have consequences in terms of flag-to-flag racing.
A penalty (grid positions, points etc) will also need to be agreed for an early engine change, and may prove unpopular with fans since the result they see on track may not reflect the 'official' result.
For example, a rider may qualify on pole position, but then start the race from tenth on the grid because of a penalty imposed for an engine change earlier in the weekend.
Interestingly, Formula One, on whom the engine life rule is presumably based, has now switched away from a consecutive grand prix system - instead setting a limit for the total number of engines a team can use over the whole season and letting the teams chose when they want to use them. Note that F1 has an engine development freeze in place.
“It's eight engines for the whole [2009 F1 season],” FIA race director Charlie Whiting confirmed on Tuesday. “A driver will only incur a penalty if he uses a ninth engine. So the teams can use the engines as they like. There's no three consecutive race rule because there doesn't seem to be a need for it any longer. The engines will not have to do three complete events now.
“In the past the two-race engine was used only on Saturdays and Sundays. Now, for 17 races, the eight engines will have to do the three days of each grand prix. What the teams will do is to have a Friday engine that'll probably do the first four races or something of that nature. They'll then take the engine out and use another one for Saturday and Sunday. All we've got to do - it'll be extra work - is to make sure that these engines remain sealed and are untouched.”
Formula One, responding to the recent loss of Honda, has also effectively eliminated in-season testing and recognised the need to put a cap on the amount of money spent away from the race track during wind tunnel testing.