Marc Marquez, Enea Bastianini and Pol Espargaro are all ruled out of next weekend’s Argentina MotoGP, the second round of the 2023 season, after picking up injuries on each of the three days of action at Portimao.

The new format, featuring a sprint race on Saturday at each round, has been mentioned as increasing the risks for riders and, after the season-opener, the weekend was defined by its accidents.

Marc Marquez to MISS Argentina GP ❌

“We have a lot of riders in hospital,” the Aprilia rider said. “We cannot continue like this.

“This isn’t about Race Direction or media. This is about us - the riders.

“On the last lap you can be aggressive, touch another [rider], it’s okay.

“But come on, it’s race one and we have four riders in hospital!”

Espargaro suggested that some riders were taking too many risks: “I don’t want to hit anybody, touch anybody. It’s not how I see this sport. If there is no space, then there is no space.

“[On Sunday] I had the speed of the podium but I finished ninth.

“I couldn’t overtake because I don’t want to put anybody in hospital.

“I cannot control them. I’m not the best guy in the world. I can be aggressive as well. But there is a limit. I know where the limit is, but 80% of the grid doesn’t know.

“We always had aggression in MotoGP but I want to see the fastest rider win. I like Francesco Bagnaia - a clean rider. We have to race like this.”

Espargaro had previously claimed that Marquez should receive at least a one-race ban for his error which led to a collision with Miguel Oliveira.

Marquez was punished by a double long lap penalty in Argentina next weekend which is now irrelevant because he will miss the race after successful surgery on a hand injury picked up during the incident. Oliveira escaped with a minor leg problem. Jorge Martin has toe and ankle knocks after contact caused by Marquez.

On Saturday in the sprint, factory Ducati rider Bastianini broke a shoulder blade after being knocked down by Luca Marini.

And on Friday, Espargaro’s brother had a scary high-speed fall in practice. He has injuries to his jaw and lung.

Espargaro was asked by BT Sport if the new format had contributed to the spate of injuries: “This is a very good question. I don’t have the solution.

“When we get used to the new format everything will be more relaxed.

“Us, the riders, we need to rethink this week. All of us, we need to relax. 

“We cannot continue like this. This is not a war, this is racing.

“We cannot touch each other at every corner of every GP because we will have a lot of injuries. This sport isn’t about this.”