Ten reasons MotoGP is better than F1

Is it the bikes, the riders, the fans, and the teams? Here are ten reasons why MotoGP is better than F1

Japanese MotoGP - TwinRing Motegi [1200, start]

WITH its bigger budgets, viewing numbers, and more airtime on TV, it’d be all to easy for the casual observer to proclaim (incorrectly) that F1 is better than MotoGP.

Honda CBR1000RR-R SP review from Doha MotoGP circuit

But as anyone with an iota of sense will tell you, creating the ultimate motorsport spectacle isn’t simply about a number on a spreadsheet.

If you’re struggling to decide which of the two halo world championships is the best, give your head a wobble and then read this starter for ten – although realistically it could double this size!

10. The riders ride – the teams watch on

Aside from some three-word sentences displayed on their bike’s dash, a rider is the only person in control of their race. The same cannot be said for F1. I watched the third round of the 2020 F1 season last weekend and was shocked by how much help the drivers were getting. Everything from dirt on the apex at turn 4 to a “dangerous tail-wind” at the first corner were all being pointed out to the drivers.

And it’s not just the coaching on the track either, the teams have a kind of magical control over the engine, limiting and boosting the power to aid overtakes or maintain the power unit’s longevity. I mean, it’s all exceedingly high-tech but, shouldn’t it really be the rider alone who decides their fate?

9. Spiky press conferences

Even in the super-professional world of MotoGP, the riders make the F1 racers look like librarians with zero personality. They have opinions too, and most of the time (Cal!) are more than happy to share them – even if their teams would very much rather they didn’t!

You also get some juicy press conferences, both pre and post-race. Lorenzo and Rossi squabbling at Misano in 2016, or Rossi lashing out at Marquez in 2015 – it happens in F1 but with a small army of press officers curtailing their sentences, spats don’t generally last long. In MotoGP, they last long after careers have ended…

8. Moto3

Yep, Moto3 is one of the best reasons to sit down and watch the MotoGP on a weekend. The diminutive 250cc race bikes are piloted by success-hungry youngsters, all with an eye on MotoGP stardom – it makes for a truly mesmerising spectacle. You can have more overtakes on the final lap of a Moto3 race than you do in an entire F1 race on a regular basis!

7. Proper overtaking

You know a racing series is struggling to make the weekend interesting when they have to manufacturer a system to allow the racers to actually overtake each other. F1 has the drag reduction system (DRS) that gives a following racer a 15kph advantage over the car ahead. And then there’s the push-to-pass button, that gives the car an injection of electric power to get ahead. MotoGP on the other hand can sometimes see five riders all entering one corner together, with the viewer at home having no clue as to who is going to come out on top.

6. Flag to Flag racing

Aside from if the weather gets really bad or there is a critical incident on the track, MotoGP events race from start to finish without interruption. The advent of the flag to flag concept, where racers swap to a wet bike should it rain and a dry bike if the track dries, was a fantastic concept, and something that only adds to the spectacle of the event.

Fair enough, F1 pitstops can be exciting, but that’s generally only when something goes wrong, or two cars collide while trying to get back out on the track.

7. 220+ mph

It’s true that an F1 car can lap a track quicker than a MotoGP bike can, but F1 cars cannot match MotoGP machines for outright speed – not the modern era of F1 cars anyway.

Fifteen years ago Juan Pablo Montoya did manage 231mph at Monza during qualifying, although rumour has it his team wound all the downforce they could out of the car, leaving him with a super quick car in a straight line but otherwise a handful in the corners.

Andrea Dovizioso though managed to hit 221mph at Mugello (or 356.7km/h), in a live session, with traffic to contend with, and he was riding a bike set up for lap-times, not an outright speed record!

6. Race long action         

Unlike F1, where we’ve been known to doze off after the start and wake up to watch the finish, MotoGP is all action literally from the first corner. You could pick a rider on lap one as your winner, only to see them drop like a stone towards the end of the race as their tyres drop off the face of a cliff. Not every race can be a thriller, but there is certainly a higher density of nail-biters on two-wheels.

Take the Assen round of the 2018 MotoGP championship for instance. It was about this time that F1 fans were getting pissed off with a lack of overtaking and stagnant racing. That very same season the ‘Cathedral of Speed’ gave us a stonking round of MotoGP action. The top eight riders made over 100 overtakes, not to mention five changes of the race lead.

5. The risks

In all seriousness, the risks involved in any form of motorsport are big. Riders and drivers lay everything on the line, week in, week out. But the cosseted (relative) safety of an F1 car is nothing when compared to the vulnerability a rider must endure while tumbling through a gravel trap at nearly 200mph.

Nobody wants to see riders injured, but you can’t help but feel respect each time you watch a rider collect a skating front-end slide or crack on just moments after being buckaroo’d out of the seat at high-speed. When you talk about sportspeople actually laying it on the line every time they go out, there are few sports that come close to MotoGP.

4. The walking wounded

How many times have we seen an injured rider hobbling through the gravel trap at the end of FP1, muttering as we watch from home; ‘well that’s their weekend f****d…’. But how many times have you seen the same rider back out again? A dozen Cortisone injections and some strapping and they’re good to go.

Probably one of the most stunning acts of physical bravery (or stupidity) came from one Jorge Lorenzo in 2013 and again at Assen. After crashing his Yamaha M1 at 150mph, Lorenzo broke his collarbone and was seen visibly wincing as he walked through the gravel. While most of us after such a crash would be lying down in a dark room with a bottle of whisky, Lorenzo caught a plane to Barcelona, had an operation the evening before the race and flew back to Assen. On the morning of the race, he was cleared fit to compete, although he was struggling to even get on the bike. He didn’t struggle to ride though, finishing the race a stunning fifth place and only losing out two points to rival Dani Pedrosa in the process.

Or what about Leon Haslam, who needs to hop on crutches to get on his bike before racing away, or Noriyuki Haga who scored two WorldSBK wins at the Nurburgring less than a week after breaking his collarbone in two separate shunts.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, riders are a different breed.

3. Sliding into the weekend like…

Save for a couple of rare corners on the calendar, F1 cars stay pretty much in the line with the direction of the corner. And if they do get out of shape, the cars are that fickle to minor changes in the flow of air over the bodywork, it normally results in a spin.

MotoGP riders on the other hand actually use the bike getting out of shape to help point the thing into the corner. Check out the YT clip above of Marco Melandri showboating to the finish as he drifts the bike, smokes the tyre, and waves at the crowd on his way to the line!

Good luck getting Lewis Hamilton to do that.

2. Riders getting creative

I find watching the riding style of the riders fascinating, you just don’t see that in F1. Take Alex Rins for example. His riding style is so retro you could almost mistake him for Freddy Spencer. But contrast that to Marquez or Pol Espargaro, who are all elbows out and hanging off every which way. And the best thing is, there’s no right or wrong way to do it, as long as your fast, that’s all that counts.

Indeed, place Hamilton in any other car on the grid and he’ll wring the most from it, but that isn’t the case in MotoGP. Personal style marrying up to the limitations of a MotoGP bike brings its own huge challenges.

If you took all the liveries off the F1 grid and made the drivers wear the same coloured lids, you’d literally have no way of telling one from the other.

Apart from the two Mercedes would be at the front, because, you know, it’s F1.

1. Victory celebrations – with props!

Ever since Valentino Rossi mounted the podium at Donington Park wearing a Robin Hood outfit in 1997 MotoGP winners celebrations have got more and more ostentatious.

From Rossi and the ‘chain gang’ to Lorenzo diving into the lake and looking like he wouldn’t get back out again, post-race MotoGP celebrations really do put the clinical world of F1 to shame!

F1 drivers even risk getting fined by the FIA for performing donuts after the race!

And they wonder why viewers are switching off.