Randy Mamola: Are MotoGP's winglets really too dangerous?

Winglets have become a hot topic in the MotoGP paddock as they continue to increase in size and quantity race by race. Randy Mamola says it's time for a deep analysis on its dangers.

The debate over the suitability of keeping the aero winglets in MotoGP that have caused such a stir this season is heating up with every race, and in Austin it was Dani Pedrosa who became the latest rider to warn of the consequences of possible incidents.

I guess Dani got scared when he imagined what could have happened if, in his accident with Dovizioso, one of these devices had made contact with the Italian rider's body.

Dani chose the middle road and, in his own words, asked to "stop them", referring to some teams - especially Ducati and Yamaha - who are running the bigger winglets on their bikes.

The solution to the danger problem, however, is complex.

For starters, you have to keep in mind that the technical regulations in MotoGP allow this kind of device, although in the lower categories it is about to be banned.

If it's allowed in the top class, it's because the manufacturers have big say in this championship, and banning them or not is something that must be voted on in the MSMA (Motorcycle Sports Manufacturers' Association).

And here we'll find the second hurdle: it is very unlikely that there'll be unanimity, because there are manufacturers who use it and others who don't. The field must discuss this issue in the safety commission and try to come to an agreement.

Dovizioso is probably the rider who has been closest to a big scare because with the winglets, both in Austin, with Pedrosa, and in Argentina, after Iannone crashed into him on the final lap.

But in this second case, we have to keep something in mind: that move by Iannone was dangerous in itself, and that has nothing to do with the bike's profile.

And also, it's also significant that Dovi has not said anything about it despite having seen them up close, both at Termas de Rio Hondo and Texas.

It's perfectly normal that Ducati wants to keep them, because the Desmosedici has been designed taking into account the benefits they bring. And this has been achieved through hours spent in the wind tunnel.

My experience with them on the two-seater is just the laps I did in Argentina, a track I barely know, and to have a better idea of their effect I'd have to wait to run at a track like Mugello.

In any case, after those few laps I could already see the big advantage they provide, especially with the most powerful bikes, which tend to make the front end leave the ground under acceleration on corner exit.

When I'm carrying a passenger, the biggest part of the weight is at the rear, something that makes it very easy for the front tyre to lift off the ground.

MotoGP has to pay close attention to the importance of the anti-wheelie system, and to the fact that if the control unit doesn't cut the throttle and you can transfer all the power to the ground without the front wheel lifting, then we'll gain under acceleration, although we'd probably lose some top speed.

And that, today, can make a big difference depending on the circuit.

I'm not saying that winglets are not dangerous, just that we don't know yet how dangerous they can be. But I think the best option is to open a period of analysis to judge if this kind of device is more harmful than, for example, foot pegs, a piece that has always been there.

And I mean a thorough analysis, with data that proves that in case of contact with a leg or an arm, it would be the wing that would break before tearing down the overalls (like what happened to Marquez at the first corner in Argentina) and whatever is underneath it.

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Series MotoGP
Article type Commentary