Bagnaia: Grand prix lengths need reducing at some tracks due to MotoGP sprints

Reigning MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia believes grand prix lengths at some tracks will need to be reduced due to the new sprint weekend format.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix was the first ever sprint weekend for MotoGP, with a half-distance race taking place on Saturday to compliment Sunday’s traditional full-length contest.

The addition of sprints has led to a change in the weekend format, with two practices taking place on Friday, qualifying on Saturday morning and the sprint later that day.

Bagnaia won both the sprint and the grand prix at the Algarve track and felt the schedule last weekend wasn’t too physically demanding for him.

However, he admitted Saturday left him “mentally” drained and feels the physical nature of some tracks on the calendar will require the full-length grand prix to have its distance reduced slightly.

“For sure the new schedule is different and it was the first one, so everyone was a bit more stressed for it,” Bagnaia said.

“In any case, right now I’m not so tired, but sincerely mentally yesterday I was because it was a very long day.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“If you get on the front row, you have a lot of media things to do before going to eat or preparing for the sprint race. It’s something different and we have to all adapt to it because it’s like this now.

“For sure, in some circuits we really have to ask to reduce the grand prix, because I think this track is not so demanding physically, but a circuit like Mugello, like Austin are. So, maybe for those circuits we have to make some changes.”

Sprints will take place at every grand prix this season, for a total of 42 races across the 2023 campaign worth a combined 777 points.

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The new sprint race drew a mixed reception from riders, with some – notably 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo – unhappy with the aggression levels the 12-lap dash brought about.

However, a number of riders argued that the aggression levels weren’t much different to those seen in the grand prix.

A number of riders were also concerned about the new Friday format, with some wary that having a one-hour FP2 starting at 3pm local time could be problematic at colder venues – particularly if there are any lengthy stoppages, as was the case in Portugal.

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