Marini: ‘Really angry’ with Stewards | Marc Marquez: ‘Only I deserved penalty’

It was hoped that the attendance of the FIM Stewards in the MotoGP riders Safety Commission meeting at Le Mans would calm the penalty controversy and provide clarity for the future.
Marc Marquez, MotoGP sprint race, French MotoGP, 13 May
Marc Marquez, MotoGP sprint race, French MotoGP, 13 May

But less than 24 hours later, following Saturday’s Sprint race, the debate over inconsistent punishments erupted once again.

Having apparently defended Francesco Bagnaia’s sanction in Jerez - where the reigning champion was ordered to hand a place back to Jack Miller for a close pass that forced the Australian to lift his bike - the Stewards elected not to punish any moves in the French Sprint.

That was despite contact between Marc Marquez and Bagnaia during a pass into the first chicane, resulting in the Ducati rider raising his hand to complain just as Miller had done to Bagnaia at Jerez. Meanwhile, Luca Marini said he had also been pushed wide by contact from Brad Binder, a claim the KTM rider firmly rejected.

“I'm really angry about the decisions of [the FIM Stewards] today,” said Marini, who finished in fourth place. “Because yesterday we spoke about everything. And they said that Pecco in Jerez, the drop one position [penalty] was correct for them.

“So why today didn’t they apply the same penalty, the same rule, [when] Binder pushed me out of the track? And when Marquez hit Pecco when he overtook him? So another time, there is no consistency.

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“It's really strange because at the end of their Safety Commission speech, I asked, 'if there is a contact and a rider hits the other rider and gains the position, disturbs [them] and causes a consequence to the other rider, there is the drop one position?’ They say ‘yes’.

“So today there was a clear episode of this and they did not apply the rule.

“This makes me angry because if Binder dropped one position I was in the correct position to then make second place today. Because then when Marc and Pecco made a little mess in the first chicane, Binder overtook them easily.

“So we asked for more consistency, they said, ‘yeah, no problem, there will be more consistency’. And today another time like this.

“It's not the problem of Binder, or any other rider, or if there is even contact or not. It's just [about] making one decision and keeping the same line for all the decisions.

“But if we speak and we take a decision that now the rule is like this, I expected that the rule is like this for everybody.”

While replays showed Marini briefly taking to the outside kerb during Binder's pass, the level of any contact between them was unclear.

Under normal circumstances, a penalty would not even be considered remotely necessary, but the Bagnaia-Miller ruling at Jerez has moved the goalposts.


Marc Marquez: ‘Only my mistake with Oliveira should be penalised’

Marc Marquez, returning to MotoGP action after suffering thumb injuries when he collided with Miguel Oliveira at the Portimao season opener, felt all of the penalties applied by the FIM Stewards this season - with the exception of his own double Long Lap for taking out Oliveira - were just normal racing incidents.

“For me the situation is clear, we need to stop speaking about these kind of racing incidents. This is stupid for me,” said the Repsol Honda rider, who finished the Sprint just behind Marini in fifth.

“For me it was nice that the Stewards came to the Safety Commission and I appreciate it a lot. We were there, 15 riders, and everybody has their own opinion.

“My opinion, and I said to them, is that everything that happened this year were racing incidents, only my one [with Oliveira] must be penalised. Because it was a big mistake. All the rest were racing incidents, and this is MotoGP.

“Then they started to speak about putting more different penalties, different warnings. But if we have more penalties, we will speak more and more and more about this.

“This is MotoGP, sometimes you have small contacts, like today. Sometimes you cannot avoid it. Sometimes even the rider outside doesn't want to give up [the place] and then you don't have the space.

“When you do a big mistake like I did in Portimão, it must be penalised. But all the rest, the people like to see that kind of show.

“If we start to be very strict on that situations, we will speak every weekend about these kinds of things, and the problem is that it will be very difficult to overtake.

“So for me, it's clear. It's my 11th year in MotoGP, and when I started in MotoGP, of course it was another extreme, but to have something in-between would be nice.

“But the contacts existed in the past, exist in the present, and will exist in the future. And this is clear.”

Bagnaia agreed, underlining that Marquez's Sprint pass had been 'normal' and that the Jerez punishment he received was wrong: 

"When there is contact you can be upset [at the time] because of the adrenaline and the tension, but for me, a battle like this is normal.

"We have to keep like this [without penalties] and not like two weeks ago when, for the same overtakes, I took a penalty.

"We have to be allowed to [race like] that and not to be scared about penalties."

Aleix Espargaro, MotoGP sprint race, French MotoGP, 13 May
Aleix Espargaro, MotoGP sprint race, French MotoGP, 13 May

Aleix Espargaro: They don't exist any more

Aleix Espargaro, the oldest rider on the full-time grid at 33, echoed Marini's comments that incidents in the Le Mans Sprint were no different to those that were punished at Jerez. 

“I don't want to talk more about the Stewards. No meaning. From today until Valencia, please don't ask me because I will not respond,” said the Aprilia rider.

“There's no meaning. There is no difference at all about anything, so I'll try to enjoy life as maximum as possible. I will ride as I feel, I will try to be clean because I'm a clean rider, if I touch somebody and they want to penalise, they will penalise me, if not, then not.

“We see the same actions, like today and Jerez, and no reactions, so that's it from my side.

"They are the referees, hopefully they can do the maximum they can, and we will do the same on track and for me, they don't exist any more."

At the end of the race, a message on the TV screens said that an incident involving Espargaro was being investigated before no action was taken.

"I didn't hit nobody. I think they put on TV - no, he hit me, I have all my leg fully black from his tyre – Alex [Marquez] – and then I overtook him clean on the brakes, as you can see from Maverick's camera.

"I'm a clean rider. I will keep going like this. If they want to keep every race trying overtakes like this, hopefully the Stewards will do something, but if not, like today, we will keep going."

Alex Marquez said: "I was making not a bad race, but Aleix and Marco started to fight, and I paid for that fight, not going in. So just that, it's racing. I just had a doubt that when Aleix went out a little bit, he was coming back from touching a little bit of the green... But if not, racing incident 100%."

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