After standard 2022 tires had blistering issues in pre-season testing at Mandalika in February, Michelin opted to bring a stiffer construction to the Grand Prix weekend, a carcass that hadn’t been used since 2018 and intended to prevent overheating.
While most felt the old tire design offered less grip overall, these issues mostly affected Honda riders, who had commanded the previous month’s tests with this year’s tires.
Pol Espargaro expressed his doubts about the possibility of finishing the race due to the stress on the front tire generated by the lack of grip on the rear. Marc Marquez, for his part, suffered a chilling accident during Sunday’s warm-up, which not only prevented him from taking part in the race, but also recreated the vision problems that have plagued him in the past.
After the race, Puig said Honda needed to understand what had happened with Michelin, even though the French manufacturer insisted there was “no problem” with the tires in Indonesia, suggesting Honda simply didn’t know how to make them work.
“Well, speaking frankly and in my personal opinion, I’m not very surprised,” Puig said of Taramasso’s words.
“In my last post-race report, I only mentioned that we should have analyzed the situation with Michelin; that’s all. And we saw how Mr Taramasso reacted when asked by the media: it was not necessary at all,” he opined. the former pilot.
“It’s a little weird when he says, naturally politely, that Honda can’t adapt. Honda has adapted to many technical changes, including different regulations, tires, engine sizes, classes, etc. etc. since. start of the world championship way back in 1966, and it was the longest-running and most successful company in the history of Grand Prix, with 25 constructors’ championships and 21 drivers in the premier class “, adds Puig.
“Does this mean we don’t know how to adapt? Well, it’s the first time I’ve heard something like this.”
Michelin argues that its conclusions on tires were based on its own data analysis, but Puig believes that in cases like this the opinion of the drivers is more valuable than “a line on a computer”, noting that Taramasso “has a mindset” that it is characterized by “admitting no mistake”.
“From my racing experience, you have to talk to the drivers first. Not Apple, IBM or Dell, where you see a line on a computer,” he continues.
“You have to listen to the pilots, and if you have pilots who have been world champions several times, you can assume that they know what they are talking about.”
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team; Alberto Puig, Repsol Honda Team Team Principal MotoGP
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“In this paddock, the constructors speak with the constructors, the riders speak with the organizer. IRTA (International Racing Teams Association) speaks with the teams and many times we disagree on many issues,” continues Puig.
“But it is always on the edge of discussions and debate that we evolve and find good solutions that allow us to move forward in the interest of all parties and the sport. Mr. Taramasso becomes hypersensitive every time someone speaks directly about his tires without admit any mistake on his part. This, in my opinion, is wrong and too radical. “
“We all make mistakes, he does too,” says the HRC team manager.
In his assessment of the Grand Prix, Taramasso pointed out that there was “a small minority of people who complained, but probably didn’t understand the technical options or were not present at the test”, a clear reference to Puig, who is not went to Mandalika for the February test, because she had undergone surgery around that time.
The Honda boss believes his experience as a rider gives him a good understanding of this type of situation, and on this basis he points out that the carcass Michelin brought to Indonesia was designed for a completely different type of track than Lombok’s. .
“My knowledge, or the apparent lack of understanding mentioned by Mr. Taramasso is not accurate at all. For your information, I have been racing for many years and achieved some good results in the 90s, and precisely with Michelin tires. So I understand perfectly. what a rider feels or needs when riding a motorcycle that offers more than 200 horsepower. In fact, you can only understand if you have been a rider. If you are in an office or in front of a computer, you can understand certain things, basically the theory. But you will never understand the reality, the feeling that a ‘slick’ tire gives you “, says the Catalan.
“The tire that Michelin brought to the Grand Prix was used in Thailand and Austria a few years ago (2017/2018). These two are circuits that have long straights. Mandalika is completely different; a track without long straights and where the motorcycle is almost always in the fold or on a banking “.
“This type of track needs good edge grip (of the tire). It is clear that there is no need for a rock hard tire for this type of track,” says Puig.
“This old carcass had, and has, its problems, especially when it comes to tire temperature. We can see that during the Mandalika weekend, most of the crashes occurred in the first two laps, a problem that was common with this 2018 tire is the reason why Michelin has developed new compounds “.
“Also, we need to design a MotoGP bike around this season’s tires. So when they suddenly introduce tires that aren’t the current ones, it makes the situation very complicated for all the teams. Honda wasn’t the only manufacturer to see the pace and the feeling of its riders suddenly disappear over the weekend “.
Piero Taramasso, Michelin
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Due to the breaking of the asphalt of the Mandalika track in the last corner, the MotoGP race was shortened from 27 laps to 20 laps.
Puig believes this option could have been applied from the start, to get around the test tire blistering problem. Another alternative would have been to propose a flag-to-flag race in the dry, as happened in Australia in 2013 and in Argentina in 2016, two events marked by similar problems with the tires.
He also considers Taramasso’s misinterpretation of Espargaró and Márquez’s claims about tire age to be “disrespectful” to his drivers.
Although Márquez’s accident in the warm-up occurred when the Cervera (Lleida) rider lost the rear of his Honda entering Turn 7, Puig does not believe that all responsibility for the accident lies with Michelin.
“I never said that. I said we had to understand the situation well and talk to Michelin to clarify and understand what the plan is in case this type of situation occurs again.”
“But Mr. Taramasso has exaggerated my words. I have always considered Michelin to be a technically very advanced company, a leader in the development of racing tires, both for cars and for motorcycles.”
“They are racing experts and have worked and achieved great success in their field for many years and have produced excellent materials over the years in racing.”
“I have been involved in racing for many years, and with that I have been able to understand that when a driver crashes and there is no clear mechanical problem, then it is a driver error.”
“But in all accidents there are elements that contribute to the accident and tires are part of the equation.”
“If Mr. Taramasso cannot understand or accept this, then I don’t understand his mentality or his approach.”
“There are a lot of people in this paddock who talk about everything all day. I’m not like that, I don’t talk a lot. I only speak when I’m asked to speak or when I have something to say.”
“Mandalika’s situation is a clear example, and the only thing I’ve said is that we need to talk deeply with Michelin.”
“That’s the point. There was a brutal reaction simply because we wanted to understand what happened.”
“Mr. Taramasso must understand that if any of my riders have a problem or doubt about something related to our bike, it is my job, my responsibility, as a team manager, to investigate the matter and give solutions to my riders.”
“I understand that this is my job, I do it like this and I’m not going to change,” said Puig.
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