MotoGP

Will new helmet comms lead to in-race F1-style radio broadcasts?

Riders suggest plans to trial new in-helmet communication systems should be expanded out to broadcasting radio messages on TV in a similar format to F1

If you’ve ever wanted to get an idea of what is going on inside the helmet of a MotoGP rider during a race, you may well soon be getting your wish as riders get behind the idea of expanding new trials for in-helmet communication.

On Friday Repsol Honda rider Stefan Bradl began trialling a new helmet radio system, one that will be sampled broadly by other riders at the upcoming Misano MotoGP test.

Though calls to introduce a system in other years has been resisted over concerns it could descend into riders being overloaded with information and team orders during a race to limit the spectacle - a criticism often levelled at F1 - Dorna are keen to use it for safety reasons as a way of transmitting live Race Direction updates, such as yellow and red flags, or hazards.

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The trial has come about after confusion during two red flag periods in Austria when information did not come up on some dashboards, resulting in some riders still pushing when the race was neutralised.

From a safety perspective the format has received a thumbs up from Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi

"I like it,” Rossi said. “For me, it's good. Because it's true that I am an old-school rider, but I am also a car driver sometimes, and with the car, everybody uses communication with the pit box," Rossi said. "For me, it will be a good step forward for MotoGP.”

“It doesn’t disturb me [talking in helmet], it’s good because it is hard to see the yellow flag,” said Vinales. “Even the red flag, it is difficult because for some reason it didn’t appear on the dashboard and if you’re full focus it is always difficult. It is an important test to improve the safety, if it doesn’t disturb the rider.

While Fabio Quartararo admits he is wary about being spoken to mid-corner, he sees the safety benefits.

“One thing I think it is important, when the team is sending on information on the dashboard, it is in the next sector, at least 20secs later - so for me I’d like clearer messages on the dashboard, for instance #1 in the middle of the track. 

Will it lead to hearing MotoGP riders talking during a race?

Though the original proposal from Dorna is centred around Race Direction-to-rider messages relating to safety, riders have perhaps surprisingly responded by suggesting they could go further by broadcasting communications in the heat of battle.

Morbidelli says the radio messages in F1 have become one of his favourite parts of watching the series, so as long as it doesn’t compromise safety he thinks it would add to MotoGP’s entertainment value.

“I think it is a step towards the future and it is good to put safety first, then we will see if we are able to give more messages or make the riders talk. 

“I don’t know if it is a good idea, but one of the things I enjoy in Formula 1 is to hear the riders talk with their teams, so I may be thinking too much in the future but it might be a nice thing to hear the riders talk during their runs if it doesn’t disturb and is not too dangerous.”

Similarly, Vinales says he thinks it would be interesting to hear a rider react verbally to being overtaking, as an example.

“For me it would be interesting if you can hear what the rider is saying because for me I am when I am riding I am saying many things inside the helmet. If someone overtakes me it would nice if they put it on TV!” 
 

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