It has been revealed that the decisions to exclude Makoto Tamada from third at Motegi, and ban John Hopkins from this weekend's race at Malaysia, were taken without examining telemetry from any of the riders concerned.

Telemetry records almost every possible parameter on a motorcycle, largely to aid set-up and problem solving, but in accident situations it can be used in the same way as an aircraft's 'black box' - since it shows the exact movements and decisions taken up to, and sometimes after, the point of impact.

For example, it can reveal when a rider hits the brakes, how hard, how much steering angle is used and in which direction it was applied. Such data can be compared with the rider's 'normal' behaviour on previous laps - and/or with others riders alongside - to judge if anyone acted unusually and irresponsibly.

However, in an update to our original story, it has now been confirmed that the punishments given at Motegi were made without viewing such material:

"No (telemetry wasn't used)," race director Paul Butler told "Video and verbal evidence was the basis of judgement."

"According to the information we received, the TV internal security circuit brought clear images of what happened, and both decisions of the Race Direction (4 members) were taken unanimously, and then confirmed by the FIM Stewards (3 persons)," added an FIM spokesman.

Whist this is clearly still valid, given the seriousness of the penalties, and the appeals made, surely it would have been appropriate (at the very least) to check the exact riders' actions from the data recorded?

It's one thing for a situation to 'look' dangerous, or even 'sound' dangerous when asking those involved shortly after, but opinion itself is dangerous since it depends on personal thoughts and feelings. Telemetry has no such 'agenda'.

This is how predicts telemetry could have helped clarify each situation at Motegi:

First turn accident:

Examination of Hopkins' telemetry would show the exact point that the Anglo-American hit the brakes, which could then be compared exactly to the braking points of those around him - showing how much later he braked. It would also show Hopper's speed, how hard he braked, plus any steering movements.

This could either work for or against the 20-year-old, since it might show he was only a fraction of a second later than the others and was simply travelling faster after a good getaway, or that he was plain too late in trying to stop.

It could also show if the riders ahead (from their telemetry) moved across sharply in front of Hopkins - closing down any gap he was aiming for. Any avoiding action taken would also be apparent.

Tamada/Gibernau collision:

Telemetry would be even move useful in this scenario since the incident was between only two riders, who had travelled over that point on the circuit many times previously.

If the telemetry showed that Gibernau braked no later than he had before, and kept steering in a straight line (or even away from Tamada), it would support the FIM's decision. As would any data which suggested Tamada cut suddenly across or 'brake checked' the Spaniard to scare him.

However, if - as some have suggested - Gibernau was found to have braked later than before, causing him to run into the back of Tamada, or had even steered his RCV to the right (towards Tamada) it would appear more of a 50/50 incident.

In the FIA Formula One World Championship, whose professionalism MotoGP appears to be trying to recreate, telemetry is regularly examined after an accident as a major source of evidence.

Whilst it can't always tell stewards why drivers behaved in certain ways, it can clarify exactly what they did.

An example of this occurred at the 2003 German Grand Prix when a turn one accident took out Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen. Schumacher was judged to have caused an 'avoidable accident' by the race stewards and his punishment was to lose 10 places on the grid, at the following round.

Schumacher's Williams team appealed, and were able prove to that - from telemetry gathered and independently examined - Ralf not only braked in a straight line and at the same time as normal, but that Raikkonen and Barrichello (who appeared innocent victims) had actually braked later - and even made slight steering movements towards each other, rather than trying to avoid a collision.

As a result Schumacher's 'loss of grid place' penalty was overturned (although he was still fined). Indeed, after seeing the telemetry, the FIA even recommended that Barrichello and Raikkonen's conduct be further investigated:

"It appeared to the Court, in particular from reading the report by Peter Wright (technical and safety consultant) analysing Accident Data Recorder information (telemetry), not available to the Stewards, that some responsibility might possibly be imputed to the other two drivers involved in the incident.

"The Court decided that the case should be referred back to the Panel of the Stewards of the German Grand Prix so that the conduct of Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen can be considered in light of the evidence from Mr Wright."

Remember, all this occured even though Ralf was simply to be dropped ten places on the grid - the penalties given to Tamada and Hopkins at Motegi were far higher.

The difference between the FIM and FIA situations is that the FIA appeal court - well known for rarely overturning previous decisions - allowed the Williams team a week to prepare, which also gave the FIA time to independently examine all the telemetry available.

By contrast, the Motegi appeals from Suzuki and Pramac Honda were thrown out within hours of the original decisions.

Isn't it time that the FIM adopted a similar, more scientific, approach before excluding and disqualifying riders for 'racing' accidents?



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