Williams driver George Russell says he hopes Formula 1 can become more like MOTOGP, its motorcycle equivalent, when F1’s new regulations are implemented ahead of the 2021 season.
Clearly a fan of the sport, Russell says:
“Its just, their racing is incredible. It reminds me a bit of karting where you can almost overtake in every single corner and swapping for positions.”
“It is a bit of a shame Formula 1 cannot be more like that. But I think Liberty are very on top of that and hopefully come 2021 we’ll be slightly more in that direction.”
It’s hard to argue that MOTOGP provides a spectacle that Formula 1 in its current state simply can’t match.
And the viewing figures seem to back that up – Formula 1 viewership globally has fallen to 400 million, while MOTOGP is on the rise, currently reaching 300 million people, despite also being tucked away on pay TV.
The reasons for that are plentiful.
Firstly there’s overtaking. There were more overtakes on the final lap of Sunday’s Italian MOTOGP at Mugello than there were in the entirety of the Monaco Grand Prix.
MOTOGP has staunchly distanced itself from falling into the aerodynamics trap. Aero devices are banned (give or take the odd wrangle over whether a small wing is used for cooling or whether it’s actually giving an aerodynamic advantage), and so the bike ahead isn’t killing any chance the one behind has of following closely.
Excitement – check.
Going into said last lap in Mugello, conceivably, any one of four riders – Petrucci, Marquez, Dovizioso and Rins – could have ended up winning the race from three different teams – Suzuki, Ducati and Honda.
And equally conceivably, any of those four riders in with a shot of the race win at the start of the last lap could have ended up not finishing the race. Unpredictability – check.
Watching MOTOGP, you can see the rider working away, lugging his bike from left to right. You can watch his effort and you can see his body language. And it looks hard.
It also looks dangerous. Because it is dangerous. These guys are doing something superhuman. Something we couldn’t do. When was the last time you thought that about a Formula 1 driver, tucked up inside his cockpit so that only a few square inches of his crash hat is visible? Quite a few years I’d warrant.
Gladiatorial? You bet it is – Check.
The top twelve in Mugello consisted of riders from eight different teams, not all works teams. Inclusion – check.
It’s glamorous, it too is the pinnacle of its sport, but it hasn’t disappeared up it’s own exhaust pipe, an accusation levelled all too often at Formula 1.
Its organisers Dorna and its regulatory body the FIM know its audience and they seem to know what makes a great spectacle.
Something the FIA and Liberty could learn a lot from.