A final version of the coronavirus depleted 2020 MotoGP calendar isn't yet available, but the bulk of the revised season is increasingly clear.

So far only Jerez on July 19 and 24 have been officially proposed, but other circuits due to host both MotoGP and WorldSBK this season - Aragon, Catalunya and Misano - are also favourites to make the final cut, plus the Red Bull Ring (due to host the F1 season opener) and nearby Brno.

As with Jerez, two races are planned on consecutive weekends for most if not all venues. The chances of any overseas events remain unclear.

So, will a short season of 10-12 races - played out over perhaps just 5-6 circuits - cause a surprise in terms of the world championship, given that Marc Marquez (Honda) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) have finished first and second for the past three seasons?

That question was put to Suzuki team manager Davide Brivio,  who recently announced new deals for both Alex Rins and Joan Mir until the end of 2022, during the team's latest videoconference with MotoGP media.

Before providing Brivio's answer, it's worth mentioning that several years ago, the Italian (who ran Valentino Rossi's side of the Yamaha garage during his world championship-winning seasons and has given Maverick Vinales, Rins and Mir their MotoGP breaks with Suzuki) spoke of trying to use statistics to take some of the risk out of picking young riders for his team.

"I'm quite passionate about statistical and mathematical calculations, but I always find it difficult to apply!" Brivio had said. "So of course, you look at statistics - riders that win many races, riders that never win... But mostly it is a feeling."

With that in mind, it's no surprise that when considering a short 2020 season, Brivio revealed he had set to work trying to calculate the possible change in championship outcome using last year's results.

But the Italian said he found no major surprises.

"I don’t think having a short championship or a long championship will change a lot," he began. "The fast riders will always be the same. Of course, there are a few variables this year, because we have to see if this long stop affects some more than others.

"But in terms of the results or competition, I think it will be pretty much the same.

"I tried to make an exercise by myself: taking the races we are supposed to do [in a short season]. There is a rough idea of which ones, like twice in Jerez, we might go two times to Austria… more or less if you double the results of last year for Jerez and Austria and so on, then the situation in the championship would be very similar.

"So I don’t think this is going to change much.

"Of course, you cannot make a mistake because there are fewer races to recover. In the normal situation if you have a bad early season, some crashes or something, then in the second half you can recover.

"For instance, last year Vinales had a difficult start to the season but was strong by the end and got back [to third]. For the top two or three positions, I think it - won’t be exactly the same - but quite similar to what it would be for the full championship."

'You have to accept it. 2020 is special'

Nonetheless, with double races and maybe only 25% of the planned 20 circuits being used for a world championship, is there a danger that the small sample of tracks chosen will tilt the balance in favour of certain manufacturers?

"From this point of view, of course we don't want to race twice in Austria!" Brivio joked. "But that will probably happen.

"And for instance, we don't have a race in Assen where we feel very strong, and we're not going to race in Silverstone where we won twice in the last four years.

"But OK, that's the way it is. You cannot think about 'Oh, we don't like Austria' because somebody might be very strong in Austria, but will be less strong in Jerez, maybe.

"So at the end of the day, to do two races at the same circuit is one of the solutions to be able to carry on the championship. So we have to accept it and we have to be prepared for that. So OK, if we are going to do 10 races or 12 races, and Austria will be two races, let's try to recover in the other circuits!

"But also, 'recover' is not the right word, because we go to Austria, with the full intention to fight.

"Of course, it's a circuit where Ducati have won many times, and basically Dovizioso and Márquez are always strong, but Yamaha have scored podiums in Austria, and why can't we do that?

"Maybe for some manufacturers it's not good to race twice in Jerez, or for somebody it's not good to race twice in Austria, or somebody might suffer more in Aragon and maybe we will have two races there, I don't know what the calendar will look like. But that's 2020. 2020 is special."

Brivio also revealed that, while the double-race weekend concept was proposed by Dorna, it had also been agreed separately by the manufacturers during their own MSMA discussions.

"Dorna thought of it by themselves, but we [the manufacturers] said if we have to race two times at the same circuit, or even if we have to make two races in the same weekend, OK, let's do it. We were quite open to anything.

"In all these discussions [with the manufacturers], I never felt somebody thinking about their own interests. Everybody was talking about the interests of the championship.

"So if in the interests of the championship we need to race twice in the same circuit. Let's do it. That's all. 2020 will be special and we will take it how it comes."

'Top five-six riders fighting for victory'

Last season was Suzuki's best since the start of the four-stroke era, with Rins claiming two victories on his way to fourth in the world championship.

But the Spaniard also suffered three mid-season DNFs, then finished ninth at both Aragon and Phillip Island, dropping him out of the battle for best-of-the-rest behind Marquez.

Turning to Suzuki's chances of causing a surprise this season, after an impressive winter that has seen both Rins and Mir (best finish of fifth in an injury-interrupted rookie season) fast throughout winter testing, Brivio said they will need to cure last year's inconsistency.

After ten races of 2019, Rins had already slipped from second (following Jerez) to fourth in the standings.

"I hope Suzuki can be the surprise, but I also hope that Suzuki won’t be the surprise anymore!" Brivio smiled. "Last year, what we missed was that we were not so strong at the end of the championship. We could finish better than we did.

"We just have to maintain more consistent results this year and maybe a shortened championship could be good training from this point of view."

The long break since MotoGP bikes were last in action in the Qatar test on February 24 also creates uncertainty.

"We have to see the situation when we restart in July after almost six months when nobody got on a MotoGP bike. We are discussing with Dorna about having one day of testing [on the Wednesday before Jerez] and it looks like this will be possible and then we will go straight into the race weekend.

"It is also about the shape of the rider and whoever is quicker to adapt will have an advantage.

"In the last few years, many times the first few races are not very significant for the rest of the championship for a few riders, but [now] you will have to concentrate and be in the best shape for three-four months and play everything.

"From this point of view it is something new and I would say interesting. It is what it is. This will be a special year for everything. It is a good test.

"I think we will see the top five-six riders fighting for the victory. It doesn’t matter how many races we have in the calendar."

 

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