MotoGP world championship leader Fabio Quartararo has been
given another post-race penalty, this time for riding with the zip of his
leathers open and discarding his chest protector in the closing laps of the
The new 3-second time penalty adds to a previous 3-second
penalty for straight-lining Turn 2 and re-joining the track, without giving up
enough time, also in the final laps.
That initial penalty dropped Quartararo from third to fourth
place, behind Jack Miller, while the new penalty further demotes the Frenchman
to sixth in the classification and reduces his title lead from 17 to 14 points
over countryman Johann Zarco.
While it was a surprise Quartararo was not black-flagged for
his own safety during the race, something many current and former riders felt
should have happened, opinions will also be mixed that he has now been handed a
penalty once the race, and therefore risk, is over. Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro
had been one of the riders who felt it was correct not to punish Quartararo at
"No, come on. This can happen. It's dangerous to start
without it but if it happens during the race, what are you going to do?"
he said. "Yes, it's dangerous, for sure it's dangerous, but he's fighting
for a title. You think it's fair to stop a rider because maybe the zip is
broken? Yeah, I understand that it's dangerous, but difficult. But reigning world champion Joan Mir considered the way Quartararo discarded the chest protector had been especially dangerous for other riders.
"The thing that is not normal is that the chest protector, in Turn 3, he moved his hand from the handlebar and threw it. There were riders coming and the chest protector is plastic so you can make a super dangerous situation in Turn 3 opening the throttle," Mir said.
"I don't know what the rules say about this, but if your leather suit is open you cannot race. Of course it's only dangerous for him, but it's really dangerous. Let's see what they decide."
Mir added that if it had happened to him, he "would try to close the leathers" even if that presumably meant pulling over and stopping. "The Alpinestars [Quartararo], from what I see, you can hold quite easy to zip [up]. The zip on the Dainese is the normal one, like in trousers, but the Alpinestars the zip is easier I think. I would try!"
Meanwhile, after the second penalty was announced, Quartararo made his own feelings clear in the following Instagram story:
Speaking before the second penalty, Quartararo said of the incident with his leathers:
"I don't know what happened. I just know that I had the leathers completely open in the first corner and I just tried to put [the zip] back in a normal position again. I couldn't do it. When [the zip] is totally down you need to stretch [the two sides together to pull the zip back up], like a zip on a pair of jeans.
"So it was difficult to ride but unfortunately it happens. Alpinestars are looking into how it's happened because at the end of the race it was possible again to close the zip [like normal]. But it's like this. It was not our day but I can be happy with this fourth position.
"I was just thinking to try to ride normally, because it's not easy to ride with the leathers open at the end of the straight, you probably just go backwards! I was just thinking to try to keep the podium alive, but anyway I had a penalty [for straight-lining Turn 2]. It's the rules but I think now it’s starting to be a little bit too much."
Asked to respond to those that were already calling for a further penalty for having the leather's open, Quartararo said:
"Well, I think I already had a penalty [for Turn 2], demoted three-seconds from P3 to P4. I think this penalty is quite enough. Let's say we finished the race and everybody is safe so that's it. I think right now it's not [worth] talking anymore about a penalty because the race is finished."
While Quartararo simply spoke about the zip coming open, he made no reference to the chest protector and exactly why it had been discarded.
Did the chest protector only become an issue after the zip was open, or had it somehow caused the zip to undo? And did Quartararo, in seeking to remove the chest protector, make the problem worse by lowering the zip further?
Unfortunately, the TV footage is inconclusive. Quartararo brakes for Turn 1 on lap 21 with the zip appearing fully closed, then the cameras cut away, returning just as he throws the chest protector out on the exit of Turn 3 with the front of his leathers fully open.
The penalties mean Quartararo's title lead has been reduced to 14-points over countryman Johann Zarco, who finished the race in second behind Migurl Oliveria..