There are only a few races left until the end of
2022 and there is already much curiosity and anticipation for the 2023 calendar. After the release of the
2023 Formula 1 calendar
, many questions and doubts have indeed arisen about what the two-wheel tour will be. In fact, the two championships sometimes run on the same circuits, so they have to interface and coordinate so as not to cover the same territories at the same time.
The thing that certainly attracted a lot of attention when the calendar of the
, is the number of races that the 2023 season aims to cover; a true tour de force, the longest calendar ever. 24 races in nine months, from March to the end of November, moving from continent to continent with only one long break in August.
What about MotoGP? How many races are there and what changes from the previous calendar?
The 2023 MotoGP calendar proposes 21 races, starting in Portugal in March and ending in Valencia in late November. And from here we immediately understand what are the first changes from previous years.
MotoGP 2023 calendar: no Aragon and departure from Portugal
March 26: Portimao / Portugal
April 2: Termas de Rio Hondo / Argentina
April 16: Austin/United States
April 30: Jerez / Spain
May 14: Le Mans / France
June 11: Mugello / Italy
June 18: Sachsenring / Germany
June 25: Assen / Netherlands
July 9: Sokol / Kazakhstan
August 6: Silverstone / Great Britain
August 20: Spielberg / Austria
September 3: Barcelona / Catalonia
September 10: Misano / San Marino
September 24: Buddh / India
October 1: Motegi / Japan
October 15: Mandalika / Indonesia
October 22: Phillip Island / Australia
October 29: Buriram / Thailand
November 12: Sepang / Malaysia
November 19: Losail / Qatar
November 26: Valencia / Valencia
The MotoGP Calendar 2023
The first major change begins with the start of the championship itself, with the first race of the season. The MotoGP championship for more than a decade, to be precise since 2007, has always opened the season with a night race in Qatar, from the Losail circuit in Doha. Instead, in 2023 we will start from Europe, specifically from the Portimao circuit in Portugal on March 24, and then fly immediately to the other side of the world, to Argentina and America, and return to Europe with the classic Spanish race in Jerez De la Frontera, which has always been the first European event of the top two-wheel championship.
Second big news of the year concerns a new entry: the Grand Prix of Kazakhstan will be run on July 7 at the new Sokol circuit in Almaty, the country’s largest city. In Kazakhstan there will be racing for the next 5 years, in fact this is the duration of the agreement signed between the circuit and Dorna. Kazakhstan thus becomes the 30th country to host a MotoGP race since 1949, a truly important milestone for the world’s oldest motorsport championship. And the records do not end there; the beautiful Sokol circuit is the 74th to host a MotoGP race.
After this new Gp there will be the classic three-week summer break and then resume with four more European races, Silverstone, Austria, Barcelona and San Marino.
The second big news on the calendar is India. After the four European races we move to India where the fourteenth race of the 2023 MotoGP will be run, specifically at the Buddh International Circuit, located in Uttar Pradesh south of New Delhi.
Introducing a race in India is certainly an excellent strategic choice; with a population of more than 1.4 billion people and more than 200 million motorcycles on its roads, India represents a huge market both in terms of audience for the championship and in terms of visibility for motorcycle companies that can use MotoGP as a perfect communication tool on the ground.
In fact, as the MotoGP statement says. “India is a true economic and cultural powerhouse, Two-wheeled transportation accounts for nearly 75 percent of the total number of vehicles used on a daily basis, making India one of the largest motorcycle markets in the world and a key hub for MotoGP™ paddock manufacturers. Racing at Buddh International Circuit, located in Uttar Pradesh south of New Delhi, will bring the sport into the heart of this key market and make it more accessible than ever to our fans throughout the region. As MotoGP™ continues to expand, the Indian Grand Prix marks an important milestone in the sport’s mission to open the doors of motorcycling to all, writing a new chapter in the history of the world’s premier motorsport championship and welcoming new spectators and fans from all corners of the globe.”
The Indian race will be the first of seven races in Asia and Oceania (Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and Qatar) the season then ends as always in Europe, in Valencia on Nov. 24.
Other news in terms of what is new is the absence of the race in Finland, which was already included in the 2022 calendar but then not held because apparently the circuit was not yet ready. It was thought that it would be within a year and instead other problems were added and so no dice, Finland also skips in 2023.
A very busy 21-race calendar with newcomers and many confirmations from the circuit perspective.
Then there is an important point to be made regarding the race format, especially that of Saturday. The real element that impactfully changes the format of the championship, and thus the entire practice and race weekend, is the introduction of the Sprint Race. Much has been said about it in recent weeks, often with little clarity and many doubts. So let’s see in detail what it is and how this new Saturday short race will work.
The sprint race: why was it included in the MotoGP 2023 calendar and will it be there in all races on the calendar?
The sprint race is the big news of the 2023 MotoGP championship, a real addition to the format that spectators have been used to practically forever. One of the most frequent questions we receive in recent times when we talk about sports sponsorship opportunities in MotoGP is precisely why this race was introduced.
Dorna, the organizer of the championship, certainly took a cue from its 4-wheeled sister, Formula 1, if not so much for the format, at least for the idea of introducing something to enhance the spectacle and program on Saturday. Especially for those who attend Saturday’s rehearsals in person, as a grandstand audience, and complain about the lack of a more comprehensive show, such as Sunday’s, and who therefore find Saturday’s program less exciting and too short.
And to eliminate this weakness that the idea was to replicate the sprint race in two wheels as well, but to add it, however, to all races, not just some as is done in Formula 1.
In fact, Carlos Ezpeleta, Chief Sporting Officer, explained in a recent press conference in which he recounts the details of the sprint race, that the decision to have this fast race in all races on the calendar gives fans an opportunity to become more familiar with the new format and schedule, not differentiate between GPs, all of which are important to Dorna, and make everything uniform without creating confusion.
But how does the spint race work?
Let’s look at it specifically. First of all, let’s say right away that the sprint race will be run in all races, on Saturday, after the official qualifying that determines the starting grid on Sunday; thus, at 3 p.m. on each race Saturday. This is a first key point to specify: the sprint race will not affect and thus change the starting grid for Sunday’s race, which is determined as always on Saturday with official qualifying.
So Q1 and Q2 in fact determine both the starting grid for Sunday’s race and the starting grid for Saturday afternoon’s Sprint Race.
Is the sprint race an actual race?
The sprint race is a race in its own right, with a starting grid and podium that will guarantee to score valuable championship points. The sprint race will last half the laps of Sunday’s race, so about 20 minutes compared to 40 for the full race. Here is the system by which points will be awarded: 12 for the winner, 9 for second place, 7 for third. And scaling up to ninth place.
Other changes, both for the teams and the drivers, and for the audience on the track and in front of the screen, are the times and the general schedule for Saturday. Let’s see how the weekend will be structured starting on Friday.
The new format of MotoGP from 2023:
With the 2023 MotoGP Calendar, the composition of the race weekend also changes dramatically, with the biggest changes occurring on Saturday.
- 9:00 35 minutes Moto3 Practice 1 (this session will be 5 minutes shorter than in previous years)
- 9.50 40 minutes Moto2 Practice 1
- 10.45 45 minutes MotoGP Practice 1
- 13.15 35 minutes Moto3 Practice 2
- 14.05 40 minutes Moto2 Practice 2
- 3:00 p.m. 60-minute MotoGP Practice 2 (a full hour, so more time than the schedule in previous years)
This is where the biggest changes are seen. The day starts earlier, at 8:40 a.m.
- 8.40 30 minutes Moto3 Free Practice
- 9.25 30 minutes Moto2 Free Practice
- 10.10 30 minutes MotoGP Free practice
- 10.50 15 minutes MotoGP Qualifying 1
- 11.15 15 minutes MotoGP Qualifying 2
- 12.55 15 minutes Moto3 Qualifying 1
- 13.20 15 minutes Moto3 Qualifying 2
- 13.50 15 minutes Moto2 Qualifying 1
- 14.15 15 minutes Moto2 Qualifying 2
- 15.00 20 minutes Sprint Race with its own podium independent of the next day’s race, in a different position than the current one. These aspects are still being worked out.
- 9.40 10 minutes MotoGP Warm Up so shorter than usual
- 10:00 30 minutes MotoGP rider fan zone: another great new feature that kicks off with the 2023 MotoGP Calendar to create some interaction with fans is the MotoGP rider fan zone. This is certainly something that is currently lacking in MotoGP and needs improvement, by popular demand. The ‘engagement with the public is crucial, just look for example at what Formula 1 tries to do that has the drivers’ lap around the circuit greeting the spectators in the stands; even if they are far away it is a way to bring all the fans who flock to the track closer together also to be able to see the drivers, not just the cars speeding by. In general, Formula 1 drivers are certainly more engaged and active in terms of engagement with the public.
- 11.00 Moto3 GP Race
- 12:15 p.m. Moto2 GP Race
- 2:00 pm Race
The sprint race will be restricted to 12 riders and will have the exact same rules as the regular race. As you can see, the Saturday schedule has clearly increased and the day is really very full. The public will have a costane track show from 8:40 a.m. until at least 3:45 p.m.
Why is the introduction of the Sprint Race in MotoGP creating so much controversy especially among teams and riders?
One of the first aspects on which those working in
, teams and riders specifically, have strong doubts, is the stress the riders will be under by having to run an extra, albeit shorter, race. In fact, it is not a matter of considering “only” the actual 20 minutes of the race, but everything that happens before and the fatigue and stress that the driver accumulates on Saturday that could reverberate on the race on Sunday.
The most critical aspect is particularly the start of a race. The start, in fact, is the moment when you are most at risk of incurring an accident and thus falling, it is the most stressed and complicated moment of the race. Having to experience it twice is certainly a complication for pilots. And also for the teams, who in case of an accident have to manage the repair of the bikes and face the related costs to be ready to compete the next day. We often don’t think about it, but when motorcycles suffer damage, there is a range of expenses that impact each team’s budget to repair the vehicles.
A stress therefore physical, mental, technical and organizational that weighs on the teams and riders for all races in the entire 2023 MotoGP calendar. Their concern is certainly legitimate. The fact that Formula 1 runs the sprint race for only 6 out of 24 races makes it clear that there are reasons, not just organizational ones, for such a choice.
Positive aspects of the sprint race
We look at the sprint race through the eyes of the marketing agency and also through the eyes of the fans, and so for us it is undoubtedly an interesting addition that goes to increase the quality of the property. Having such a full track program on Saturday is certainly a plus for the public, especially those who go to the circuit and perhaps have always considered Saturday less interesting than Sunday.
In addition, the possibility of having a dedicated window for ‘interaction with fans is another important aspect that was missing in MotoGP. We always talk about engagement and improving the fan experience; this also means offering fans something that is directly related to the drivers and teams, as is the case in Formula 1.
Is it stressful for the pilots? Of course they are, they are there to race at over 300 km/h more than to sign autographs, but they can do it because the public watches and follows them, pays for their tickets, transfers, buys their merchandise, etc. something has to be given in return; performance on the track alone is no longer enough.
Secondly, an interesting aspect, especially from a marketing and communication perspective, is that having an extra race with a podium in its own right provides an opportunity for possible sponsors to have an additional tool to invest in and thus to communicate. The offers in terms of sponsorship are increasing, which we are pleased about.
Like all changes to the 2023 MotoGP Calendar, this one will take some time to digest, but we hope it will improve the format. We just have to wait a few months.