Moto GP season update

The massive five week gap is finally at it’s end. Moto GP is soon to return to our TV screens this Friday 6th August, with the qualifying on Saturday 7th and race on Sunday 8th.

Even though racing was on a break, news stories kept on coming in.

Since the fantastic Assen weekend with the two Yamaha teammates finishing first and second, one of them decided to pull out of his contract with Yamaha earlier than expected. Maverick Vinales will be parting ways with the factory team at the end of the 2021 season. Unfortunately, this may not come as much of a surprise as Vinales has been quite open about his feelings within the team recently and has been seen to be dejected many times in interviews. It has been rumoured that he will be joining Aprilia in 2022, as of yet, nothing has been confirmed or denied.

Vinales (courtesy of Moto GP website).

More news from Yamaha, but this time from Petronas Yamaha. It was announced that Franco Morbidelli will not be competing in the next three rounds due to a knee injury, sustained in a training accident, prior to the Assen race. Morbidelli has had knee trouble in the past, hopefully this time the injury can be corrected for good. Wishing him all the best of luck in his recovery.

Morbidelli is not expected to return to racing until September at Aragon

With Morbidelli out for three races, Petronas Yamaha have recruited British racer Cal Crutchlow. Having retired from Moto GP last year in 2020, Cal has been a test rider for Yamaha, so it did seem like the obvious choice. Crutchlow is a massive fan favourite and an all-round good guy and rider. He will be racing in Styria, Austria and his home track at Silverstone. So be sure to show your support for him.

When Franko returns to the paddock there will be some changes to the 2021 calendar:

For the second time in a row Australia and Thailand will not feature in the Moto GP season. Due to the on-going Covid 19 pandemic and travel restrictions, creating difficult decisions to be made. As a result of this the Malaysian Grand Prix has been brought forward a week, Portimao replaces Phillip Island and the Algarve GP has been added in November, for a second year in a row.

Updated 2021 Season Calendar (courtesy of Moto GP website).

This weekend though also sees the return of the Spaniard Dani Pedrosa. After, retiring back in 2018 from Repsol Honda, Dani has been a test rider for KTM ever since. He has been hailed as a massive part of their recent success in 2020 and 2021. He will be stepping in as a wildcard rider for the one-off race. Could this be the first of many appearances from the number 26?

From retirements to returns there has been one consistent in the whole of Moto GP for the past 25 years. The nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi will be celebrating this amazing anniversary.

Young Rossi on the podium in 1996 (courtesy of Gazetta).

Sunday 15th August will be the Austrian GP and in 1996 Rossi took his first ever podium, in third place, competing in the 125 class. His 200th podium is still eluding him though, will we finally witness history being made in the second part of this season?

Reminder of the current championship standings as of the last race weekend at Assen:

First

Quartararo

156 Points

Second

Zarco

122 Points

Third

Bagnaia

109 Points

Fourth

Mir (Current Champion)

101 Points

All information is current and correct on date of publication – 04-08-21

 

Featured imaged (courtesy of Moto GP website).

Kubica confirmed to test for Renault in Hungary

After much speculation, today Renault Sport F1 team confirmed that Robert Kubica will be driving the R.S. 17 in Hungary on August 2nd as part of the two days of mid-season testing for the teams. After a series of private tests in older Renault machinery, this announcement marks the next step in what many hope will be the Pole’s full comeback to Formula 1.

Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director at Renault, previously labelled Kubica as an “option” for Renault in 2018, and claimed that he saw no “obvious roadblocks” to the return of the Polish driver, who was a race winner back in 2008. Kubica himself claimed that he believed he could drive again at the level he did before his career stalling rally crash in 2011, and was quoted as estimating his chances of a return to F1 as “80%-90%”.

This test will mark the first time Kubica completes laps in up-to-date Formula 1 machinery, and will give both Renault, and the general public, a chance to see how he fares in the newer, more physical cars. It will also be the first time he will drive in a public testing session, where his competitiveness will be displayed to the world for the first time.

While rumours are abound that this is Renault’s way of gauging whether or not Kubica is fit to replace current driver Jolyon Palmer, with some placing the switch happening as soon as Spa. This seems unlikely however, as Abiteboul claims the test is merely to see whether it would be possible for Kubica to return in “the upcoming years”. But nevertheless, the announcement marks a huge step forward in the Pole’s quest to return to racing in Formula 1 full time.

Still, fans will be watching very closely to see how his times compare to those of Palmer, and whether or not he manages to last a full race distance.  And regardless of whether it leads to a race seat or not, few will not enjoy seeing Robert Kubica back driving a Formula 1 car again. It looks more and more likely that what people once thought was impossible, might become a reality.

Renault also announced that Canadian Formula 2 driver, Nicholas Latifi, will test the Renault R.S. 17 on the other day of the two day test at the Hungaroring.