MotoGP's opening cost-cutting measure in response to the coronavirus will be a freeze on engine and aerodynamic development until the 2022 season.

The move - unanimously agreed by Dorna, MSMA (manufacturers), IRTA (teams) and FIM - means the main aspects of bike spec at the start of this season will remain unchanged until the end of the 2021 campaign.

That will not only slash development costs for the six manufacturers, which won't need to build a 'new' bike for next year, but also result in lower leasing costs for the Independent teams.

"We all decided unanimously to keep the 2020 spec, which basically means the bikes we shipped to Doha to start the championship. The engine spec, as well as aero spec, will be frozen until the end of 2021," IRTA president and Tech3 team owner Herve Poncharal told Crash.net.

"It was a very good decision. It will reduce the investment for the manufacturers because it means most of the R&D for next year is already done. That will help the manufacturers in this tough situation but also the teams because the lease fee, which is the main technical cost for the teams, will need to be reduced because the 2021 bike will be the same."

Although full details are yet to be published, once rubber-stamped by the Grand Prix Commission, it seems the 2020 and 2021 seasons will be 'merged' from an engine and aero point of view.

Currently, the four non-concession manufacturers (Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki) must use the same engine design throughout each season, but can then introduce a new spec at the opening round of the following year. All riders are allowed a maximum of two fairing designs per season.

KTM and Aprilia are currently exempt from the in-season engine freeze and so might have the chance to gain more ground on the 'big four' due to an extended freeze, but:

"They won't use it, I believe. On paper, the Concession rule might not change but I'm pretty sure it will be the least of their worries," Poncharal explained. "Right now, the question is not how to spend more money, I think for every manufacturer the target will be to save their company.

"More development means spending more money. Nobody wants to spend money now. Everybody wants to freeze everything we can and 'hibernate' for a while. Use as little energy as possible to keep the heart beating."

The biggest fear with any development freeze is that bike spec will be locked at a stage where one manufacturer has a clear advantage or where big performance gaps exist throughout the field.

Fortunately for MotoGP, there has rarely been a better time to freeze the grid, with the top 18 riders covered by just 0.972s at the end of pre-season testing.

"Freezing the spec doesn't hurt the show, because we have incredible bikes for this year," Poncharal said. "During testing in Malaysia and Qatar the lap times were unbelievably close.

"So we don’t need to spend on that department because we have incredibly high-tech, high-performance bikes already. Let's keep them like this."

Although MotoGP is yet to hold its first race of the year, the 2020 engine spec was homologated remotely on March 25, when digital drawings of each team's first fairing designs were also submitted.

Chassis and electronics are not currently covered by any development freeze.

Latest 2020 MotoGP Calendar (April 7)

Round

Date

Race

Circuit

1

8 March

Qatar (MotoGP cancelled)

Losail

2

3 May

Spain (postponed)

Jerez

3

17 May

France (postponed)

Le Mans

4

31 May

Italy (postponed)

Mugello

5

7 June

Catalunya (postponed)

Barcelona

6

21 June

Germany

Sachsenring

7

28 June

Netherlands

TT Circuit Assen

8

12 July

Finland

KymiRing (Subject to homologation)

9

9 August

Czech Republic

Brno

10

16 August

Austria

Red Bull Ring

11

30 August

Great Britain

Silverstone

12

13 September

San Marino

Misano

13

27 September

Aragon

Aragon (rescheduled)

14

4 October

Thailand

Buriram (rescheduled)

15

18 October

Japan

Motegi

16

25 October

Australia

Phillip Island

17

1 November

Malaysia

Sepang

18

15 November

Americas

COTA (rescheduled)

19

22 November

Argentina

Termas de Rio Hondo (rescheduled)

20

29 November

Valencia

Ricardo Tormo (rescheduled)

 

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