MotoGP

Morbidelli slapped with Indonesia MotoGP grid penalty for start infringement

Due to the new Mandalika International Street Circuit being dirty off-line, riders were allowed to make a practice start at the end of Saturday morning’s FP3 to help clean the grid for Sunday’s race.  

Agreed upon in Friday evening’s safety commission meeting, riders had to pull up to the grid and take up one of the slots.  

Before making their start, they had to wait for the riders ahead of them to do theirs.  

Morbidelli, however, moved ahead of Suzuki’s Joan Mir and has been hit with a three-place grid penalty for the race, dropping him from 12th to 15th. 

A statement from the MotoGP Stewards Panel read: “On 19 March 2022 at 11:42 during the MotoGP practice start session of the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia, you [Morbidelli] did not comply with the “Notice to All MotoGP Teams” information provided.  

“You were observed to be positioning in front of riders staged to do a practice start.  

“This contravenes the specific instructions given to all teams/competitors, and it is considered irresponsible riding causing danger to other competitors.  

“It is therefore an infringement of Article 1.21.2 and Article 1.22.2 of the FIM World Championship Grand Prix regulations.  

“For the above reasons, the FIM MotoGP Stewards Panel has imposed a grid penalty of three positions for the Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia MotoGP race.” 

Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

When asked by Autosport about the penalty Morbidelli accepted the punishment and says he did not attend the safety commission meeting where the new procedure was outlined. 

“I’m sorry about that,” he said on the infringement. “I skipped the safety commission, they said it in the safety commission.  

“This morning I tried the start and I skipped the line [of riders], changed spot at the last moment and Joan [Mir] was already starting and got close. So, sorry about that. The penalty is right.”  

He later added: “We received an email, I got the papers this morning, but probably I skipped the part where it said we were going to start with everybody in line or waiting for somebody in front [to go].”

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Morbidelli endured a tough qualifying, with a crash in Q2 early on at Turn 5 and was left stranded in 12th before his penalty.

He says he was lulled into believing a damp patch that he’d spotted in FP4 had dried come Q2 and was proven wrong.  

“Yeah, it’s my mistake also,” Morbidelli said of the crash. “I went on a wet patch like there wasn’t any wet patch.

“I thought there wasn’t any more. I saw it and was careful in FP4, but in the qualifying I said ‘OK, I go in’ because I didn’t see it in the out-lap.

“I tried to go in like it wasn’t, but actually the track was a bit damp. So, I lost the front on it. My bad.”  

Morbidelli’s three-place penalty promotes VR46 duo Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi up to 12th and 13th, while Honda’s Marc Marquez – who crashed twice in Q1 – will move up a spot to 14th.  


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