One of the major talking points of the Czech Republic MotoGP weekend was the debut of the new Ducati fairing.

Although not as extreme as the 'hammerhead' design seen in winter testing, the fairing is clearly the most radical of the new generation of aerodynamics to be homologated for a grand prix event.

External wings were banned at the end of last season until new rules which prohibit: "Devices or shapes [that may have an aerodynamic effect] protruding from the fairing or bodywork and not integrated in the body streamlining."

Technical Director Danny Aldridge is the sole judge of whether a device or fairing design is within the new regulations.

This is what Aldridge had to say about the Ducati fairing, which Gigi Dall’Igna says produces 40% of the former wing downforce, during Monday's test session at Brno…

4-5 modifications before getting the green light:

"The design and homologation process for the Ducati fairing has been going on for a few months. The first design they submitted, we said 'no, you need to change this'. So it's not a case they got everything they wanted.

"Their job is to get to the limit and my job is to keep them within the limit. So it's finding a compromise. What happens with the first design - and this has happened with other manufacturers as well obviously - is they say 'is this allowed?' And I say, 'no, what you need to do is adjust this, this and this' and so they come back with a version two, version three, version four.

"With all of these aero packages, the rule book states the final say is mine, but I understand that it's such an important decision so I also speak to other people such as Mike Webb [Race Director] and Corrado Cecchinelli [MotoGP Director of Technology]. We sit down as a kind of mini-committee. I get their opinion and input until we get to a point where we all agree it's within the rules. That's when I allow it.

"The openness of the rules has both helped and hindered us. I'm trying to be fair to everyone, but every decision sets a precedent. You’re always thinking, 'how might this evolve?' So it really helps talking everything through with Mike and Corrado. Three heads are better than one in some respects.

"The rules say it is down to the Technical Director's interpretation and of course everyone has a different interpretation. Some people might say 'it's a wing, it shouldn't be allowed', others might say they like it and understand why it was allowed. 20 people will give 20 different views.

"But it makes motorcycle racing interesting. It's nice to see different looking bikes on track. Otherwise you go towards a one-make series. Also, in F1, the aerodynamic rules are very strict, but they still have arguments every week about the latest developments.

'We could start to define curvature and angles'

"To go back to the beginning, we requested to the manufacturers, 'you give us some rules' for the ban on wings. And they couldn't. But maybe the rules are too open at the moment…

"It's difficult. If you take the Yamaha design, it has a bulge on each side [with a curve]. Then if you take the Ducati design, it also has a bulge on each side but [is a squarer shape]. If we say the Yamaha is correct, at which point does it go from correct to not correct?

"This is the problem. You would need to start defining acceptable curvature and we don't have that in the rule book now. I will speak to the manufacturers about the present rules, to see if they feel they are not working or they are not happy.

"They have not come to me about it, but that would be my general opinion if they did; we would start to look at defining curvature and angles."

The Ducati fairing can be used as 'tri-plane' (Petrucci) or 'bi-plane' (Lorenzo):

"They have two versions. They have the horizontal piece in the middle and, within the rules, you are allowed to remove material. So what they did was make it as one solid piece, it's not hollow, and then they can cut off [the bottom part], smooth off the cut and paint it. Very clever.

"As the rules are written, the 'ducts' need to be an integrated part of the fairing. The Yamaha and Honda are bolted or riveted on, but the top part on the Ducati is moulded into the fairing."

Is the Ducati fairing at 'the limit'?

"Definitely. Honestly, we've been going to meetings with them for the last four or five races so there is not much more [that would be allowed]. It's been a lengthy process. I understand they want to try what they believe is the best package and I have to bring it back within the rules.

"When they discussed the modification to make it smaller, for example, I said 'yes, you can cut it, but the way you want to cut it I'm not going to allow'. So they had to change that, for safety reasons."

With the bottom removed (bi-plane), the Ducati looks like two wings, at a right angle, connected by a side panel…

"You've got two extremes, from the Honda to Ducati, with the others in-between.

"The biggest headache I had was when it comes to illegal or not illegal, bearing in mind what we already have with the Yamaha and Suzuki. At what point do we say yes or no. The more strict you are, the more rules you need.

"I've spoken to the other manufacturers about the Ducati. They understand why I've allowed it and at the moment they seem quite happy."

When parts are taken off, or material removed, what do you insist on?

"The most important factor is safety. No sharp edges or something that could be dangerous to themselves, other riders or track marshals. And it must still be within the rules as far as the use of aerodynamic devices. You obviously can't take parts or material off so that it turns into a wing."

So Ducati couldn't remove the side panel, linking the top and bottom wings?

"Precisely. Luckily I have a good relationship with the manufacturers. They always come to me to discuss things they are working on. They don’t just turn up with something. The philosophy is that 'until you get something from me in writing it is not homologated'."

Would you like more control over removing parts or cutaways in future?

"I would like to see less of the bolt-on sections to be honest with you."

What is the process for changing the aero rules?

"No technical rules can be changed without agreement from the MSMA, unless there is a safety issue. This was how the new fairing rules originated."

Pedrosa thinks a rider might catch their handlebar on the Ducati fairing…

"If we received a concern from the riders through the Safety Commission, or Race Direction, we would definitely look at it. One option might be to limit the opening of any ducts. Most riders don’t seem too concerned."

The in-season update only counts once the rider has been on track with it?

"Yes, until it's physically used on track. Remember for a test anything can be used, so the Yamaha one that was on track today might not necessarily be the one that is homologated. They can do what they like at a test.

"They have to supply information to me before it goes on track at a grand prix. At the moment the only people to have used the Ducati update are Lorenzo and Petrucci. So in theory Dovizioso might say he is not happy and want to have it adjusted, re-homologated, as long as he hasn't used it on track at a grand prix. That is also why you see the slight variations between the Crutchlow, Marquez and Pedrosa fairings at Honda."

The Ducati 'hammerhead':

"That never came to me. So I had not input in that at all. It was only testing, so that's fine, and then they shelved it. Then we saw this big gap [in new fairings] from all the manufacturers and now we're starting to see new fairings for the second half of the season."

The future of MotoGP fairings:

"There will be a lot of evolution. As always in motorcycle racing, development goes off in different directions at first and then they all move closer together again. The nose of the Ducati for example is the extreme of the KTM and the lower fairing is the extreme of the Suzuki. So they've gone to the limits. So this year we'll probably see some way out stuff and then you might find next year all of the bikes start to merge towards a similar design."

Cost saving:

"The aero rule I think that has worked for cost saving is one upgrade per year. It's stopping teams throwing different things at the bike each weekend, which happened with the wings to a certain extent."

Can Moto2 and Moto3 use these kinds of fairings?

"It's within the rules. So KTM could use their MotoGP fairing design in Moto2 if they want to."



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