The Saturday afternoon Sprints will be over half-distance, for half-points, and not officially count as a ‘grand prix’ victory.

But a MotoGP race is a MotoGP race, meaning the same physical and mental pressure, not to mention risk, for all 42 encounters over the 21 rounds.

“I think it's going to be a great challenge for the riders,” said 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo, at Tuesday's Monster Yamaha team launch. “We will have to be consistent, especially in terms of injury.

“If you are injured, you are not going to miss only one race but basically one and a half [per weekend]. So you need to be really consistent and make the best result possible, but mentally and physically it’s going to be on another level from last year.”

The Frenchman also highlighted the impact of losing Free Practice 4, scrubbed from the schedule to make way for the Sprint race.

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FP4 plus Friday afternoon’s FP2 were the only practice sessions held at the same time as the (Sunday) race.

But unlike FP2, FP4 didn’t come with the added distraction of needing to stay inside the top ten for direct access to Qualifying 2, in case of bad weather on Saturday.

That meant teams and riders could focus purely on race preparation.

“It's going to change quite a lot, especially for the Sunday [race], because usually Saturday afternoon we have a practice when we prepared for the race on Sunday,” Quartararo said.

“That was FP4. But now we will have a [Sprint] race. So it's going to be difficult to really prepare for the ‘real’ race on Sundays because on the Friday afternoon we have to qualify for Q2 directly, but also think about the race.

“It's going to a really intense weekend. But it's our job to perform. And we're going to do it well.”

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli, also speaking at Tuesday’s Monster Yamaha team launch, added:

“Physically it’s going to be different, mentally it’s going to be different. You're going to pay more if you get an injury or something, but it's a ‘card mixing’ that I like. So let's see.

“It's going to be for sure exciting for the fans, one more race every weekend. Everybody likes the battles so. There's going to be more ‘rubbing’ for sure.”

2023 to be MotoGP’s ‘hardest, toughest year’

Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis also highlighted the fact that, of the 21 rounds, almost half will be outside of Europe, following the planned addition of India and Kazakhstan at the expense of Aragon.

“I think this year will be the hardest year or the longest and toughest year ever in the MotoGP world,” Jarvis said. “We have 21 races. We have 10 races outside of Europe, 11 races inside of Europe. It will start in March 26 and finish in November.

“There is also the new Sprint race on the Saturday. That will be half distance, half points. But it means for our team and riders will have 42 races this year. So that's going to be tough.

“Anyway, we will do our best. I think it will be difficult, especially for the riders. But for the fans there will be even more racing to watch… And if we can bring more show to the fans, that's more important.”

Team director Massimo Meregalli predicts that engineers will be pouring over the Sprint race data late into Saturday evening.

“After the Sprint race we have to really look into all the data to try to improve wherever we can for the main race on Sunday,” he said. “For sure this new format will be more nice for fans to watch, but maybe a bit more stressful for us!”

The Italian added: “Technically wise, [we hope to be] ‘fast’ this season and strategically I would like to say avoiding mistakes. Do not take anything for granted, because sooner or later you will make a mistake and especially this year with 42 races being very consistent will be the key to get the title.”

Quartararo led the title chase for most of last season but was ultimately unable to prevent Francesco Bagnaia overhauling a 91-point deficit to take the crown by 17 points at the Valencia finale.

Morbidelli was just 19th in the standings and is 'seeking redemption' for 2023.