Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta says he expects MotoGP riders to take pay cuts in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, including those that have already signed contract renewals for 2021.
The COVID-19 outbreak that has caused the opening nine races of the 2020 season to be either cancelled or postponed has placed great financial stress upon the teams that make up the grand prix racing paddock, which have been starved of their usual income.
Series promoter Dorna has assembled a €9m aid package to help teams through the next few months, but Ezpeleta says riders will also need to play their part in allowing the championship to weather the crisis.
Right now only five of the 22 MotoGP riders have contracts beyond 2020, with Alex Rins (Suzuki) joining Marc Marquez (Honda), Maverick Vinales, Fabio Quartararo (both Yamaha) and Tito Rabat (Avintia Ducati) on that list last weekend.
“I think everyone will negotiate downwards, not just those riders who haven’t renewed,” Ezpeleta told Spanish radio station Onda Cero on Sunday.
“Riders can have a contract, but the agreements are always signed in a normal situation. In case of force majeure it is different and I think that will not be a problem.
“Everybody understands what you legitimately earn when you do your job, but it’s another thing when you’re at home going through a situation that nobody wants to have.”
Ezpeleta also revealed that Dorna has trimmed the salaries of its own staff.
“What we’ve contemplated is a series of measures at Dorna, just as the teams will have reached an agreement with their workers that they are not doing anything to pay them less, we have lowered our salaries,” he said.
“We will all, by mutual agreement, reduce our salaries until the championship is back on track as planned.”
Although June’s Dutch TT is currently the provisional season opener, Ezpeleta said that “we are working to have races from August”, suggesting the earliest possible curtain-raiser would be the Czech Grand Prix at Brno.
When racing finally does resume, it has been suggested that teams will be asked to bring along only a bare minimum of personnel to the tracks.
But Ezpeleta categorically ruled out holding races only for MotoGP and abandoning the Moto2 and Moto3 campaigns that were able to get underway at Qatar last month.
“We have contemplated reducing the number of people who can enter the paddock and in those calculations we include all three categories,” he said. “This issue was discussed with the manufacturers and is ruled out.
“If the main income is TV and advertising money, we have to give [audiences] a certain number of races, it would be a much less generous show [without Moto2 and Moto3].
“When this is over, people will be eager to see races and we have to give them a product that has a certain duration.”