Last year's compressed 'Covid' MotoGP calendar, which saw 14 rounds in the space of four months, including the last nine races over eleven weekends, prompted renewed discussion of whether at least some race weekends should be reduced to just two days.

Normally, ticket income from spectators means shortening an event is not viable, but with most rounds held without any fans last season (and probably the start of this season) that is not a concern for now.

TV broadcasting contracts might still be an issue, while the top ten practice times for direct Qualifying 2 access would be decided after a single session, but F1 has already tried a two-day schedule (practice and qualifying on Saturday, then race on Sunday) at last year's Imola round.

Opinion was mixed, some feeling less track time before a race produces more surprises, while others thought it just made 'simulator' work more important, therefore playing into the hands of the bigger teams (Mercedes were one-two in qualifying and the race).

A variety of views also exist among MotoGP riders, some in favour of shorter weekends, some against and some - like new world champion Joan Mir - not particularly concerned either way.

"For me it's not a big problem, more time to spend at home!" Mir said of two-day race weekends. "But whatever the organisers say, I will do!"

Fellow title leader Fabio Quartararo saw pluses and minuses.

"I think it's good and bad," he said. "I prefer to be out on the bike [on Friday] than running on the treadmill.

"But it's true that two days, Saturday and Sunday, like Formula One did at Imola is great because I think we have a good base for our bike and normally we don’t change a lot.

"So I think it would be great and quite fun to have a big change in the schedule."

2021 Monster Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales agreed that less practice could make the racing 'much more interesting' due to the hit-and-miss nature of finding a set-up (a scenario that already occurs when wet practice sessions are followed by a dry race, or vice versa) but prefers the current format.

"I think it's difficult to have time to set-up the bike and understand how the track is going in just two days," said the Spaniard.

"But also it could also make it much more interesting, because maybe you don’t have a good weekend.

"I like how it is, I like to ride on Friday calm, then Saturday and Sunday. But if it's two days, for me it's okay."

With a record nine different winners last season, making MotoGP less predictable is surely low on the sport's priority list.

However, others argue that thrilling racing is not only about the number of different winners, but the amount of overtaking and lead changes in a race.

Title runner-up Franco Morbidelli was clearly against a shortened schedule, even warning it could be more dangerous.

"Personally, I don’t like," said the Petronas Yamaha rider. "We've all been racing all our lives with this programme – Friday, Saturday, Sunday - and I like it.

"I think also with Formula One it's more possible because they are on four-wheels. We need more time to set-up the bikes and to get used to the track and everything. I think our riding gets better and better throughout the weekend and on Saturday it's not at its best.

"It's good, because we make records in qualifying, but I think it’s not at its best and it could be more dangerous to have just two days, only one day and then the race."

By contrast, Andrea Dovizioso saw no real negatives.

"For me it can be good and I always push for it when we spoke about it in the Safety Commission. But it looks like it will not be like that," he said.

Mir's Suzuki team-mate Alex Rins was also in favour, for personal performance reasons.

"In my case, looking at the results, on Friday's I'm always towards the back! So it would be nice to do only [the following] two days!" he joked.

One solution to the lack of set-up time would be to only drop Friday practice during the second weekend of back-to-back rounds at the same circuit. But with riders and teams already present at the track, it makes little sense for them not to ride.

 

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