Why MotoGP Riders are Braver than Formula One Racing Drivers

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Photo by jerko Scholten / CC BY 2.0 Caption: You can’t beat the thrill of MotoGP.

There is a saying in MotoGP that luck favours the brave, and that’s because professional motorbike riders have to push themselves to the absolute limit of their capabilities. There’s no doubt that Formula One stars equally have a need for speed. But in our opinion, there is no contest between the heart and desire shown by MotoGP stars and Formula One champions and here’s why.

Jorge Lorenzo Says So

Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo is a three-time MotoGP world champion and is one of the best-qualified riders to make such a claim that motorbikes require more bravery than Formula One cars. However, Lorenzo, who switched from Yamaha to Ducati last year, insisted he had no intention or desire to move from two to four wheels. Lorenzo believes MotoGP still offers the best possible physical and mental examination for speedsters than Formula One.

Lorenzo nods to the overall safety of a Formula One racing car. The Spaniard says they are now ‘at a very high level’, providing excellent protection for the cockpit. And after having the chance to take a ride in Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes W05, which helped Hamilton win last year’s Formula One World Championship title, Lorenzo spoke at first-hand about the “power of the engine” and the way in which Formula One cars are built with such downforce, enabling them to power through corners in the seventh gear. Meanwhile, MotoGP bikes can only take corners in the third gear and are, therefore, less prone to accidents in fast corners.

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Photo by MotoGPItalia /CC BY 2.0 Caption: Lorenzo in discussion after another successful race.

Lorenzo points out that while the safety of motorbikes has improved considerably, there is still the danger that ‘when you crash, your body is the chassis’. Riders’ first impact with the tarmac is with their bodies. So, it is still far more likely to injure in a MotoGP bike than a Formula One car. In that aspect, Lorenzo says, MotoGP riders have ‘a little bit bigger balls’.

In the past, Formula One drivers climbed aboard motorbikes for fun. Spain’s McLaren driver Fernando Alonso took to a Honda MotoGP bike at an end-of-season event in 2015. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some of the 2018 World Championship Contenders, like Lewis Hamilton, show an appetite to try two wheels, especially given that his long-term commitment to Formula One is still in doubt. However, Lorenzo believes that if a Formula One driver was forced to ride a MotoGP bike in the quest for championship points, they would find it ‘much harder’ to churn out competitive lap times than if he was to get behind Hamilton’s Mercedes for real.

There is no doubt that Formula One stars will realise just how protected and cocooned they are inside the cockpit after riding a MotoGP bike. In truth, they can drive without fear of their body impacting with the ground in the event of a crash. But on the flip side, MotoGP riders must also focus firmly on balancing — the moment they lose their balance they will fall off or have a motorbike accident. That’s before they’ve even considered the speed they are going and whether they can overtake the bike in front of them. Lorenzo also talks of the need to have ‘sensibility’ of your hands at the helm of a MotoGP bike, with the ability to shift your body weight more freely than Formula One drivers that tend to sit in the same position for 120 minutes.

Lorenzo first entered competitive car racing on four wheels back in 2010 when he participated in the 3 Hours of Aragon event behind the wheel of a Fiat 500. He then upgraded to a SEAT Leon and took part in Barcelona’s 24 Hours of Montmelo, winning his category. Lorenzo admits that while he would ‘like to race more in cars’, once he retires from MotoGP, he still won’t be able to replicate the sheer joy and purity of racing on two wheels.

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