While many felt Marc Marquez should have received a stronger punishment for the collision with Miguel Oliveira in Portimao, the Jerez races saw Long Lap penalties handed to Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo for what many felt were ‘normal’ opening lap incidents.

Francesco Bagnaia was then forced to hand a position back to Jack Miller after a hard pass on the Australian, for which he had waved an apology. But Miller faced no action when he then sent Jorge Martin wide, costing him several places, with a block pass.

A grand prix racer in 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP from 1994-2003, a large chunk of McWilliams’ own world championship career was overseen by Paul Butler, as Race Director.

Butler, who retired at the end of 2011, once famously said that ‘motorcycle racing is a contact sport’ when outlining his attitude to penalties.

We Could Lose Yamaha AND Honda feat. Jeremy McWilliams | Crash MotoGP Podcast Episode 88

Crash.net’s MotoGP editor Pete McLaren asked McWilliams about that quote as well as his opinion on the recent MotoGP penalties:

“My view and it's not just my view, but the view of lots of ex-racers and guys I’ve spoken to, is that there should not have been any penalties handed out at Jerez whatsoever,” said McWilliams, competing in the Supersport and Supertwin classes, at the age of 59, in this week’s North West 200 road race.

“There were gaps, and you go for gaps. If you don't go for a gap, you’re not racing. Like Paul [Butler] said, if it’s touching or contact, it's acceptable.

“We accept coming in after a race with rubber marks on our arms, legs or motorbikes. That's part of the sport. You don't expect to be T-boned and that deserves an obvious penalty and quite a severe penalty.

“But everything that happened [at Jerez] including when Fabio was trying to slow up and basically the gap is closing, you can't give a rider a penalty for trying to avoid an accident. You can't give a rider a penalty for trying to race. Because they're penalising riders for attempting to race one another now.

“I’ll just be upfront about this; those Stewards that are making those decisions need to be replaced… If I was still there I’d put my hand up and say ‘let me put this to Race Direction’. Because it cannot carry on.”

'MotoGP will turn into football!'

McWilliams added: “Pecco Bagnaia got a penalty for diving underneath Jack at Turn 6 at Jerez. He just brushed him. Jack then remonstrates that Pecco shouldn’t have done that and there was a kneejerk reaction from the Stewards: ‘Oh, look, Jack’s been hurt or been hit’.

“This is what is going to happen [if you give penalties for the slightest contact]: It's going to turn into a football game, people rolling around on the floor holding their ankles!

“There’s always going to be brushing at some corners. There are times when we touch elbows quite a lot, just to keep the other rider away from your brake lever or whatever. So there are necessities for brushing sometimes.

“But if you take every touch as a penalty, the next thing will be to put sensors on the leathers or bikes and if there is even one brush against another bike the sensor goes off and you get a penalty!

“I’m completely against it all, but I am still supportive of penalties when it’s severe enough. Particularly when riders are riding hard into each other. For instance, it looked a little bit like that in [World] Superbike at the weekend. It was tit-for-tat between Bassani and Rinaldi.”

Butler’s successor as Race Director, Mike Webb, continued to be responsible for rider penalties (as well as managing track activities) until 2016 when a new three-strong FIM Stewards panel was created for that specific task.

Former triple world champion Freddie Spencer was then appointed chairman of the Stewards panel from 2019, taking over from Webb, who now focuses solely on running the events.

While the presence of the Official MotoGP Legend was initially welcomed, riders and teams have increasingly complained about a lack of clarity and consistency in the punishments given - or not given - by the FIM Stewards.

MotoGP riders are due to meet with the FIM Stewards during the Safety Commission gathering on Friday evening at this weekend’s Le Mans round, where the officials will presumably try and communicate the criteria for which penalties are given.