The news arriving from Japan could have a direct bearing on the MotoGP pre-season, set to begin in a month’s time. As of now, Dorna has everything in place in accordance with requests from the Malaysian authorities in order to be able to raise the curtain on the 2021 pre-season in Sepang come mid-February.
A process that involved the organisation of exclusive charter flights for MotoGP paddock personnel and concentrating everyone in just one "bubble hotel". The entire group would only be able to move between the hotel and the track, using public services. Rental cars with a particulate filter would not be permitted. But the general worsening of the pandemic, particularly in a key nation like Japan, could have a destabilising effect on these plans. On the one hand, Japanese factories are very protective of their employees and, on the other, the possibility to be unexpectedly joined by other teams is something that cannot be excluded.
A risk that could be avoided by refocusing activity in Europe, following the framework that Dorna successfully used last season. Transferring the pre-championship to Europe - to southern Spain and Portugal - would allow the Japanese engineers to follow the modus operandi of 2020, when they would ‘seek refuge’ in Andorra between the races.
On paper this looks like a ‘safer’ approach, rather than attempting to move 1500 or 2000 people to Asia and being at the mercy of any unexpected changes in situation. But there are of course a number of economic factors that we cannot evaluate and that will clearly have a bearing on any decisions.
In any case, and bearing in mind Dorna’s management of the championship last year, we’re sure that it would be the safest solution for world championship staff.
Translated by Heather Watson