FIM: Silverstone surface has degraded since 2018 MotoGP inspections

FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini claims Silverstone's new for 2018 track surface has deteriorated considerably since it was first laid after the cancellation of MotoGP's British Grand Prix

FIM: Silverstone surface has degraded since 2018 MotoGP inspections

Race director Mike Webb said the fresh asphalt was directly responsible for Sunday's race being called off, as the track failed to drain properly on a day marked by persistent rain.

Formula 1 drivers said the new surface was bumpier than the one it replaced during the British Grand Prix weekend in July, and multiple MotoGP riders expressed their discontent with the track's bumps after Friday practice.

Uncini was asked in a special press conference on Sunday about the condition of the track when he first visited it to homologate it in February, and said there had been no issues and that the surface must have degraded in the interim.

"I came when the new asphalt was laid down, at the end of February," said 1982 500cc champion Uncini.

"At the time I did an inspection and the Tarmac looked very good, in terms of bumps, connections and also grip.

"It was confirmed by Cal Crutchlow who did a test on a bike one month later, he said it was a little bumpy and the circuit reacted and then adjusted these bumps.

"But then we discovered during the Formula 1 [weekend] the circuit was bumpy. So it degraded from March to July.

"They will make a deep study, six weeks, to see what the reason is for this kind of [degradation], because honestly in February and March, it was good."

Lewis Hamilton was highly critical of the new track surface, saying Silverstone had "wasted money" and that the track had become "bumpier than the Nordschleife".

Uncini said he contacted Silverstone after becoming aware of the problem, but there was no time for any substantial improvements to be made between the two events.

He also admitted FIM has no way of checking if a track will be fully safe in wet conditions during the homologation process.

"[When] we check the track in the dry, we presume the track in the wet should be OK with the correct drainage on the side and the inclination of the track everywhere," he said.

"We only trust the company who makes the asphalt and trust the circuit. We just check it's not bumpy, that there is good grip, that there are no gaps between the kerbs and the asphalt.

"We check all these particulars, but we cannot check in the wet. Effectively the only system to check is with a MotoGP bike on a completely wet track - completely impossible."

Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said it was "very difficult" to conclude why the track had not drained adequately without appropriate information.

"If you think there are people who are disappointed about the performance of the track today, you can be assured I stand at the front of that queue," said Pringle.

"We have not committed to this championship and two-wheel racing to have our fans sit for six hours in the weather. That is not what we wanted and not what we set out to do.

"We need to make a serious investigation into this and we need to understand what's gone on.

"I can't do that now, I can't give you any straight answers.

"I know that the contractor - Aggregate Industries - did this because they are proud of their workmanship and proud of the quality of their products and proud, and they did this to gain brownie points and for the benefits it would bring them, not to sit here at the end of a difficult day and have question marks placed over the quality of their workmanship.

"But it would be unfair to round on them now when we don't have data, and we need data.

"I have some data, from scans we have taken before we did the work, immediately after we did the work, and we also did an additional scan after Formula 1 because there were some question marks starting to be raised there."

The decision not to race was ultimately made by the riders in an emergency safety commission meeting on Sunday, with only Jack Miller and Johann Zarco pushing for the race to go ahead.

Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo, who qualified on pole, said the race would have been able to take place on a circuit that was draining water properly.

"95% of the riders were agreed not to race, this is very significant," said Lorenzo. "And nobody pushed us to take another decision.

"On a normal asphalt, with a good drainage, the race would have been done because there was not so much rain."

At least two riders did not attend the riders' meeting. Valentino Rossi opted to skip it, and Andrea Dovizioso was reportedly not informed it was happening.

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Author Jamie Klein
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