While there has been plenty of debate over whether MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo should even have received a Long Lap for the Assen incident with Aleix Espargaro, it is the Silverstone Long Lap layout itself that has now come under fire.
Usually, riders lose around 2.5-3 seconds when they run ‘wide’ to serve the Long Lap. But Quartararo looked to lose far less during his many practice runs through the Silverstone penalty area on Friday.
This weekend’s Long Lap lane is located on the outside of Turn 14, a tight hairpin corner.
Quartararo wouldn’t put a number on exactly how much time he was losing, but the slow nature of the turn, combined with the relatively short length of the loop, meant Espargaro estimated it is only 0.8s.
While the Aprilia star has made clear he does not agree with Quartararo receiving the penalty, given other incidents have gone unpunished this year, he felt it was also inexcusable for MotoGP not to be able to create a consistent Long Lap zone of 2.5-3s at each racetrack.
“It’s a joke. It is not for me to complain about the Long Lap because it looks like I am saying it because my rival has to do the penalty, but it’s a joke. You lose eight tenths! He was trying it today and it was eight tenths,” Espargaro said. “We have to be more professional about this.
“If it’s 3 seconds then it should be 3 seconds everywhere. 2.5s is OK, but eight tenths?! It’s ridiculous.
“But anyway it doesn’t matter. Even if it was 2 seconds Jack [Miller] proved this year you can do the Long Lap penalty and fight for the podium, so imagine Fabio.”
Mark that up as the 5th practice attempt!
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Espargaro added that he fully supports the Long Lap as a way of penalising riders.
“In the past, if you did a jump start then you had to do a ride-through [the pits] and this was a disaster. Now if you do a Long Lap penalty it is better for the show. It is a good invention, but now we have to be serious with it.
“I don’t think it is that difficult [to get the same time Long Lap time at each track]. Someone can come with a Superbike and try it, if it’s too fast then you tighten it. You can have half a second up or down, but not from 3.1-3.2 like it was in Barcelona to 0.8 here. That’s a huge difference.
“You can see here that it is one metre out of the track and with the same layout. It’s easy!”
For Espargaro, it comes down to consistency once again.
“I have nothing against Fabio. It looks like I’m saying all this because he has to do the Long Lap, but again, what we want is that things are the same: the Long Lap penalty, the penalties in general and how we treat everything.
“Once again, we get to another track and it is different; this is what we need to improve.”
Joan Mir jokes: Maybe you gain time on this Long Lap!
Espargaro wasn’t the only one to highlight the lack of time lost on the Long Lap at Silverstone.
“This Long Lap penalty, maybe you gain a bit of time rather than lose!” joked Suzuki’s Joan Mir. “Okay, for sure you don’t gain time. But it’s not 3 seconds, not at all. Maybe just 1 second.
“It’s a really tight corner, and also it’s really close [to the racing] line. In a slow corner you always lose less time than in a fast corner.
“I think that this can be improved a little bit more, to have more or less that 3 seconds average [at every track].”
A ‘delayed’ Long Lap would also help Quartararo
Aside from the time lost in the Long Lap, the timing of when Quartararo serves the penalty will also determine how many places he loses.
The earlier in the race the ‘Long Lap’ board is shown, after which Quartararo will have two further laps in which serve the penalty, the more positions the Frenchman is likely to concede.
“I will not say a number, but we lose quite a lot [of time],” Quartararo said of his Long Lap practice.
“I also need to make it in the beginning of the race, but I hope I will not make it so much in the beginning because I think it’s quite a dangerous place to get back on the track.
“Of course, it’s also a small advantage for me [to take later], but for the safety, I hope they will not put it straight away from the first lap, but maybe from the second or third lap.”
Other riders serving Long Laps in the early stages of a race have lost around 3-4 positions this year.
Quartararo, last year’s Silverstone winner, was fastest during Friday practice with Espargaro, currently 21 points behind the Yamaha rider, in a close fifth (+0.207s).