All MotoGP World Championship teams have a tyre technician who works for Michelin, the official tyre provider in the 2016-2017 season. The technician carries out a comprehensive analysis of the conditions at the Grand Prix, offering any necessary advice for the team and rider to be able to choose the most suitable tyre when required.
Their work and understanding of the task are crucial for the team's performance and the rider's safety. Their advice is based on an analysis of the temperature and position of the track, tyre temperature and pressure, and the rider's comments during training and the race. The professionals who work with the teams in each Grand Prix emphasise that: “the estimated temperature of the track is not the only consideration. For each race, we assess the layout of the track, including the shape and direction of turns, the micro and macro-granularity (compactness) of the surface, and the lateral and longitudinal forces applied to the tyres".
Each tyre is designed to provide the highest level of performance and sustainability within specific temperature parameters. Data analysis and the choice of tyres affect the rider's performance on the track. If the tyre overheats, it loses grip and the motorcycle begins to slide and turn. Bubbles can also appear in the rubber lining. At low temperatures, the wheel loses its full grip potential and the motorcycle begins to slide. This can cause a phenomenon called graining, where the rubber develops small ridges across the edge of the tyre.
As confirmed by Michelin technicians who work closely with the Repsol Honda Team, "temperature has a direct impact on tyre grip and sustainability". They are designed to be highly versatile, which means a consistent performance in a wide range of temperatures”.
Choice of tyre
Michelin provides a wide range of different tyre varieties at each MotoGP Grand Prix to ensure that the ideal solution is offered according to the conditions in each race. Before going to the circuit, Michelin staff work closely with member teams to assess the different possible circumstances. However, they emphasise that "tyre pressure and motorcycle adjustments help, but ultimately the riders themselves adapt most effectively to changing conditions, and can change their style at the wheel to ensure the highest output from the tyres in order to achieve the best results".
The choice of tyres for the front and back wheels depends on both the team and rider, and in most races they make the correct decision, since all of the tyres provided by Michelin are adapted to the track and range of temperatures. The team's experience and the advice from Michelin technicians let the riders focus on their performance on the track, although depending on their position on the grid and qualifying requirements they can also have the last word on the decision, as confirmed by the Michelin experts: "When there are changing circumstances, some pilots decide to try a more aggressive strategy with the choice of tyres, using different designs to their opponents. If they do this, they need to adapt their style to achieve a higher level of performance and sustainability from the tyres".