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Ezpeleta: F1 popularity boom can help MotoGP

MotoGP chief Carmelo Ezpeleta believes Formula 1’s popularity boom can help grand prix motorcycle racing, but that “recently F1 was in trouble and we were the best of the best”.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team race start

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team race start

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

In a wide-ranging interview with Autosport's sister site Motorsport.es, which covers MotoGP’s new sprint race format, calendar changes and Dorna’s operation of the series, Ezpeleta gives his take on F1’s spike in interest and how MotoGP works concurrently alongside its four-wheel counterpart.

Ezpeleta has given credit to F1’s recent rise but feels these trends come in “waves”, having previously seen a golden era in MotoGP when the likes of Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso were superstars fighting for world titles.

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“At the show level, F1 is number one in the motorsport spectrum,” Ezpeleta said in an exclusive interview.

“Our obligation is to gain popularity, but without F1 being the reference.

“That F1 is popular helps us a lot. It is true that they have grown a lot lately, and I don't think it is exclusively due to Drive to Survive, although it has clearly helped.

“My opinion is the popularity is going in waves. Recently, F1 was in trouble and we were the best of the best. What you have to try is to focus on yours and work to the best of your ability.”

Carmelo Ezpeleta, Chief Executive Officer of Dorna Sports

Carmelo Ezpeleta, Chief Executive Officer of Dorna Sports

Photo by: RNF Racing

One of MotoGP’s integral changes for 2023 which shares similarities to F1 is the introduction of sprint races run on Saturdays during grand prix events.

F1 debuted its sprint races in 2021, initially running three per season before expanding to six from next year, while MotoGP will hold sprint races at every round when it introduces the format in 2023.

While the change is set to have a widespread impact on MotoGP events, Ezpeleta feels the numerous benefits both on- and off-track meant it was logical to apply the format to every event.

“From the first moment we were clear that they should be incorporated into all the races,” he explained. “If your reason for it being [introduced] is to give a boost to the activity on Saturdays, you have to standardise it.

“In addition, this new format has another effect, on Sunday. With the disappearance of the Moto2 and Moto3 warm-ups, and the reduction of the MotoGP warm-up, a window opens in which more promotional activities can be carried out with the riders. Both on circuits and on television.

“This initiative has been received with great enthusiasm by local promoters and operators, and what you cannot do is offer it to some great prizes and not to others.”

Read the full interview with Carmelo Ezpeleta here.

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