MotoGP 2015: Silverstone Wrap-Up

Valentino Rossi reigns in the English rain.

2015 MotoGP Silverstone Rossi and Marquez race action

In a rainy upset at Silverstone, Yamaha's Valentino Rossi won by three seconds from Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) after a closely pursuing Marc Marquez lost the front in Copse Corner at the start of lap 13. Rossi once again leads the 2015 championship from teammate Jorge Lorenzo (by 12 points), with Marquez now effectively out of the running, 77 points behind the leader. It will be Rossi vs. Lorenzo from here on.

On Friday, Rossi said, “Here in Silverstone, the weather is always a big question mark and just like everybody else we would prefer all practice sessions to be dry, but that might not be possible because the weather is becoming worse .”

Practice remained dry and cool. Lorenzo remained on top of the times until FP4, when Marquez went ahead. Lorenzo explained: “I used a new tire at the end of FP3, that's why I had advantage over Marc because he stayed with the same tire. But he had saved one new tire for FP4.”

And in FP4, Marquez went to the top and then set a new qualifying record of 2:00.234, which was 0.288 seconds ahead of Lorenzo in second and 0.482 sec over Pedrosa in third and 0.713 sec over Rossi in fourth. Rossi had, as so often, gone slowly in practice only to pop up when required.

All these practices and qualifying had been dry, giving an opportunity for Marquez to display what he has learned about how to minimize the present handicap of his Honda—its more abrupt 2015 powerband. It has been standard form in MotoGP for Honda to reply to threats with more, but never more usable, power. Their 2004 power-up in response to Ducati's upstart excellence in 2003 cost Honda the championship that year, and the 2015 version of the same play looks fair to bring the same result.

2015 MotoGP Silverstone Marquez race action

In an exchange with David Emmett, Marquez said, “Last year one of my strongest points was the brake point and I was really strong there. Maybe on the corner speed I was a little bit less and on acceleration also I was good. This year looks like with this engine we cannot ride like this. We need to brake a little bit earlier, prepare more the exit of the corner because then the bike is coming more aggressive and you must ride in a different way.”

Asked if his new style was more like that of the Yamaha men, Marquez replied: “It looks like it. Not completely Yamaha style because now Yamaha has improved the exit from last year, but also they improve a lot the brake point. They are braking really, really deep now. We are working on this because I think we cannot lose this potential on the brake point. But at the moment this year we must lose a little bit of that potential, to try to gain on the exit.”

The message seemed to be that the Honda’s engine is more easily managed by more gradual transitions between braking and turning, and between turning and accelerating.

The weather made all that into a side issue. Rossi rides prudently in rain, and has a history of maintaining a good margin in the wet. In Brazil in 2002, Carlos Checa made ground on Rossi, who was leading. And then Checa went into the lead and pulled away. Rossi kept to the pace he deemed maintainable. His wisdom was revealed a few laps later when Checa, still charging away into the distance, tipped over. Rossi had made his decision as to pace, and was not to be tempted.

2015 MotoGP Silverstone Rossi race action

Silverstone is bumpy. Said Lorenzo: “The car racing at Silverstone is making the asphalt very bumpy, especially on braking.” Added Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso on Friday: “The track conditions were difficult because of the presence of numerous bumps…I approached the track in several different ways and for tomorrow we will try to be as smooth as possible.”

Another rider with early difficulties was Scott Redding: “We’re struggling a little over the bumps because the tire absorbs the bumps but it doesn’t grip.”

Every team goes softer in rain, trying to keep more consistent load on tires. Even in the earliest days of electronics, ignition boxes had a little row of dip switches, one of them engaging a rain program that took the edge off of acceleration by suitable ignition retard. Much more sophisticated measures exist today, and the teams had the rainy warm-up to verify their settings.

The weather forecast showed falling humidity and a declining chance of rain, so all came to the start on slicks. Rain began falling on the sighting lap and every rider went to pit lane for his rain bike. Lorenzo won the start and led for a short while before the faster pace of Rossi and Marquez took them to the front. Rossi found himself unable to shake off Marquez, but after seeing that Marc had crashed out, the Italian relaxed his pace a bit. But here came Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac Ducati, with Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati and HRC’s Dani Pedrosa in tow. Petrucci took eight laps to move from ninth to third, and was second for the last third of the race. Rossi raised his pace twice to meet this attack, and Lorenzo, despite a fogging visor, mustered improved lap times to pass Pedrosa for fourth.

2015 MotoGP Silverstone Rossi victorious

The race came down to a contest between Rossi and Marquez. Rossi’s rain set-up began with a longer, more stable bike with softer suspension and somewhat less aggressive engine qualities. Marquez began with the more aggressive 2015 Honda engine and a set-up usually optimized for hard braking and quick turning. Sunday’s result perfectly well could have been an accident of the kind any rider can have: Marquez just lost it in Copse. But it’s tempting to think that two things worked in Rossi’s favor—his strategic prudence in rain, and the fact that his Yamaha has benefitted from many years of optimization for corner speed.

CHATTER

VALENTINO ROSSI

“I’m very happy and proud of this victory, it‘s a great feeling! I think that the last race on the wet that I won was ten years ago. This morning I woke up feeling good, but my team also did a great job and my bike was fantastic already from the first lap of the warm up. I felt great and got more feeling and positive things from the bike, so I knew I could be competitive in the race. I fought a lot with Marc, which was very difficult. I kept trying to break away but he stayed with me. I saw that Marc crashed on the mega screen and I didn‘t hear noise of his bike, so I already thought that maybe something had happened. After he crashed I slowed down, because I thought I had enough of an advantage but in reality Danilo wasn’t so far, so I had to recover my concentration and start to push, because if I didn’t he would catch me. This is my fourth victory of the season, so I’m very happy and it’s important for the championship. Today I was very fast, I had great confidence with the bike and it’s a fantastic victory at Silverstone, where I never won before, this is the first time!”

MARC MARQUEZ

“The World Championship situation was already complicated before this Grand Prix, and now it is even more difficult, but it is also true that this was a race where we had to take a risk. I felt I had the race under control and I crashed out. It means zero points, but the fact that we were back up at the front again was the positive side of today.”

2015 MotoGP Silverstone Crutchlow race action

CAL CRUTCHLOW

“Obviously, I’m really disappointed, we could have done a great race today, I thought I had the pace to be with the winner. I felt really comfortable this morning in the rain and I felt really comfortable in the race, but these things happen. Jack is young, he was near to the front in a MotoGP race and made an ambitious move. He made a mistake, he apologized and I have accepted his apology. I’ve done it before and I’m sure I will do it again—this is racing, but obviously I was very disappointed.

“I came in and we changed the bike, but as soon as I went out of the pit lane I crashed immediately because it was a dry setting on that bike and there is a big, big difference.  I was not really going to carry on too much as I was too far behind the leader at that point, but it was a good job by the LCR Honda team this weekend and I really appreciate all the fan support as they really helped us.”

JACK MILLER

“I’m happy with the weekend, but of course not happy with the result of the race. I want to say a big sorry to Cal for taking him out, but we were both pushing hard. I didn’t actually mean to overtake him, I was just trying to hold Espargaro off on the brakes and accidently went too deep and touched him. It was an accident, but all in all it was a good weekend as we found some settings with the bike we became more comfortable with and I’m looking forward to Misano.

“Misano is a good track for me, I like it a lot. It will be a new surface this year so I look forward to seeing what the grip level is like as last year was quite low, but it should be interesting.”

2015 MotoGP Silverstone podium

Results 2015 British Grand Prix at Silverstone

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team Time/Gap
1 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 25 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 46'15.617
2 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA 20 Pramac Racing +3.010
3 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 16 Ducati Team +4.117
4 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 13 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +5.726
5 PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA 11 Repsol Honda Team +11.132
6 REDDING Scott 45 GBR 10 Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS +25.467
7 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 9 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +26.717
8 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 8 Ducati Team +29.393
9 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA 7 Team Suzuki Ecstar +38.815
10 BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA 6 Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +41.712
11 VINALES Maverick 25 SPA 5 Team Suzuki Ecstar +44.776
12 HAYDEN Nicky 69 USA 4 Aspar MotoGP Team +52.489
13 BARBERA Hector 8 SPA 3 Avintia Racing +1'11.211
14 DI MEGLIO Mike 63 FRA 2 Avintia Racing +1'15.292
15 DE ANGELIS Alex 15 RSM 1 Athina Forward Racing +1'17.863
16 BAZ Loris 76 FRA 0 Athina Forward Racing +1'19.310
17 LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE 0 Aspar MotoGP Team +1'19.735
18 CORTI Claudio 71 ITA 0 Athina Forward Racing +1'58.086
19 ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE 0 AB Motoracing +1 lap
20 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA 0 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 DNF
21 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 13 Repsol Honda Team DNF

Action #1

Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez.Yamaha Photo

Action #2

Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.Yamaha Photo

Action #3

Valentino Rossi.Yamaha Photo

Action #4

Jorge Lorenzo.Yamaha Photo

Action #5

Valentino Rossi victorious.Yamaha Photo

Celebration.

Valentino Rossi celebrates.Yamaha Photo

Podium

Silverstone podium.Yamaha Photo

Action #6

Marc Marquez.Honda Photo

Action #7

Dani Pedrosa.Honda Photo

Action #8

Andrea Dovizioso.Ducati Photo

Action #9

Andrea Dovizioso.Ducati Photo

Action #10

Aleix Espargaro.Suzuki Photo

Action #11

Cal Crutchlow.Honda Photo

Action #12

Jack Miller.Honda Photo

Action #13

LCR Honda Team.Honda Photo