The greatest show on two wheels is back this weekend as a brand-new MotoGP season gets underway. 

After a thrilling 2022 season culminated in Pecco Bagnaia claiming the riders' championship in the final race of the campaign, 2023 promises more drama and excitement for MotoGP fans and BT Sport subscribers alike, with a record 21 races set to take place this season and a format change adding extra spice to the weekend. 

As usual, every session from all three classes will be available to watch on TV or to livestream online, with our expert team keeping you across all the action.

Here, btsport.com poses five key questions ahead of the hotly anticipated season opener.

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What can BT Sport subscribers expect?

BT Sport subscribers can enjoy more motorsport than ever before this season.

Along with all the action throughout the MotoGP season that you have become accustomed to, customers can now watch the Superbike World Championship, the British Superbike Championship and the best in speedway on Eurosport through Discovery+.

The MotoGP year begins on your screens in earnest this Friday, with the first free practice beginning at 9am from the Grand Prix of Portugal, which is being held for the fourth straight year at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao. 

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Who are the 2023 MotoGP contenders?

After finishing second to Fabio Quartararo in 2021, Pecco Bagnaia got his revenge by pipping the Frenchman to the riders' title last year in the final race of the campaign in Valencia, becoming the fourth different man in as many seasons to lift the Champions Tower. 

Bagnaia is the favourite to claim the crown again this year, and along with fifth-placed Jack Miller, he also tasted glory in the 2022 constructors' championship as Ducati Lenovo Team emerged victorious.

However, Miller has now moved to KTM to form an intriguing partnership with sixth-placed Brad Binder while taking the place of Miguel Oliveira, who has gone to RNF Racing. 

As a consequence, Enea Bastianini, who came third in the riders' standings last year, will take Miller's seat, which could spark an electric rivalry at Ducati Lenovo Team with compatriot Bagnaia.

If the two are on song and work together, the Italian manufacturer will be hugely confident about defending their constructors' title for the third straight season. 

Enea Bastianini (left) congratulates Pecco Bagnaia after Bagnaia's Malaysian Grand Prix victory in 2022
Will Enea Bastianini and Pecco Bagnaia's rivalry help or hinder Ducati Lenovo Team as they look to defend their constructors' title?

Given his impressive consistency over the last two seasons, Quartararo can never be counted out as he remains with Yamaha, while veteran Aleix Espargaro enjoyed the campaign of his life in 2022, the highlight being his maiden MotoGP win, which took place in Argentina for what was also Aprilia Racing's first-ever triumph in Grand Prix motorcycle racing's premier class. 

Following Suzuki's withdrawal from the sport, Alex Rins and 2020 champion Joan Mir have joined LCR Honda and GasGas Factory Racing respectively and could both muscle their way into the title conversation.

Finally, Marc Marquez has the talent to beat anyone on his day, but a succession of arm injuries, along with a double-vision diagnosis last year, have hampered him greatly in the last three seasons.

Can the Spaniard turn things around and show why he is a six-time champion in the final year of his current contract at Repsol Honda?

Marc Marquez watches on during official testing in Portimao in March this year
Marc Marquez will be itching to show what he can do following three incredibly frustrating years

MotoGP follows F1's lead with Sprints

In a hugely exciting move for MotoGP fans, commercial rights' holder Dorna has decided on introducing Sprint races to the calendar. 

The concept has existed since 2021 in Formula One, but there are key differences between the two implementations. 

Unlike with F1, MotoGP Sprints will be held at every single weekend in the season, but points accrued in MotoGP Sprint races will count towards the riders' standings. 

MotoGP Sprint races will also be around half the length of the main race - as opposed to about one-third the length of the showpiece events in F1 - with the top eight riders in each Sprint earning 12, nine, seven, six, five, four, three and two points, while ninth place earns one point. 

Another key difference with F1 is that MotoGP's Sprint races don't determine grid position for the main race; that will still be determined by Q1 and Q2 results as it was in 2022. 

As a result of Sprints being introduced, there will be no FP4, with the times in only FP1 and FP2 determining direct access to Q2. FP3, still to be held on Saturday, will be shortened from 45 to 30 minutes prior to Q1. 

Jack Miller is excited by the risk-taking element of Sprint races and feels the addition to the weekend will force riders to their "absolute max the whole time".

Johann Zarco is also an advocate of the change of the format, but feels Sprints should carry "almost the same points as a long race" due to their intensity, while Joan Mir is pleased that qualifying will be determined by two free-practice sessions on the same day rather than three free-practice sessions over two days. 

It is important to note that Moto2 and Moto3 won't be adopting the Sprint format. The order of the weekend in 2023 will also be standardised so that Moto3 is followed by Moto2 and then MotoGP at every stage where possible. 

New additions to the calendar

With an unprecented 21 races on the 2023 calendar, the upcoming MotoGP campaign gives several venues a chance to show themselves off. 

While there have been several false starts, with the Hungarian and Finnish Grands Prix missing their chance to make their debuts this year, India and Kazakhstan are set to host their first MotoGP races at the Buddh International Circuit and the Sokol International Racetrack respectively. 

The Buddh International Circuit previously hosted Formula One's Indian Grand Prix and have agreed a seven-year deal with MotoGP, while for the Sokol International Racetrack, this season represents uncharted territory, having never previously hosted a motorsport event of this magnitude. 

The Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh
India is scheduled to host its first-ever MotoGP race at the Buddh International Circuit this year - but the track is nowhere near ready

The FIM, the sport's governing body, hope the additions can mark the start to longstanding and successful partnerships with the two countries.

However, the Buddh International Circuit's ability to host their race - set for 24 September - has been thrown into doubt, with MotoGP safety officers concluding that a number of changes need to be made before the track is up to standard, issues that they estimate will cost up to £4m to address. 

Following the addition of the India and Kazakhstan legs to the calendar, the Aragon Grand Prix won't feature this year, having been an ever-present since 2010.  

Meanwhile, the Qatar Grand Prix won't take place in its customary curtain-raiser spot for the season, with construction work at the Lusail track meaning that the race will now fall on the penultimate weekend of the campaign. 

That opening-weekend spot will instead be taken by the Portuguese Grand Prix, to be held at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao. 

Pecco Bagnaia competing in qualifying at the Aragon Grand Prix in 2020
The Aragon Grand Prix has been dropped for 2023 having been part of the MotoGP calendar since 2010

Who are the British riders in Grand Prix motorcycle racing?

Sadly for fans of British MotoGP riders, there will no be representatives from these shores.

Cal Crutchlow looks to have stepped away from the sport for good at the age of 37, having retired from regular competition in 2020 before racing for the last two years as a back-up rider for RNF Racing. 

In Moto2 and Moto3 though, the picture is looking much rosier. 

Jake Dixon will be looking to improve on his excellent sixth-placed finish last year in Moto2, while Sam Lowes will be hoping for better fortune in 2023 after a 2022 blighted by retirements.

Cal Crutchlow prepares to ride for RNF Racing in MotoGP's Japanese Grand Prix
Cal Crutchlow rode the last six races of 2022 in place of Andrea Dovizioso - but the 37-year-old now seems to have retired for good

The pair will be joined at that level by 21-year-old Rory Skinner, who won the British Supersport Championship in 2020 and competed twice in Moto2 for American Racing last year, with the team opting to give him a permanent seat for this campaign. 

John McPhee has had to exit Moto3 due to the age limit at that level, but the Scot has proved that he's not finished, he's only 28 with a move to the Supersport World Championship.

That leaves VisionTrack Racing Team's Scott Ogden and Joshua Whatley as the only British riders in Grand Prix motorcycle racing's third tier. 

Aged just 19 and 17 respectively, Ogden and Whatley have incredibly bright futures ahead of them, with Ogden no doubt feeling he can post a top-10 finish at some point during the upcoming season, especially having recorded the fastest time in the field during a day of private testing earlier this month in Andalusia.