MotoGP: An introduction to the championship

In 2021, MotoGP will be covered on Last Lap. This article will give an introduction to the class and delve into how the championship works.

The Basics

MotoGP is known as the premier motorcycle racing class, it is essentially the Formula 1 of motorcycle racing.

The governing body of MotoGP is the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), and is similar to the FIA (the governing body of Formula One) in the way it operates.

Traditionally, the first race of the year begins under the lights at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. In 2021 there will be 20 rounds, starting in Qatar, in March, and ending at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain in November.

MotoGP also has ‘support classes’, known as Moto2 and Moto3, with Moto2 being the intermediate class of the trio. Moto2 and Moto3 feature in every round of the championship, and have become known for their incredibly close racing.

In 2021, 11 teams made up of two riders will contest the championship.

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Weekend Format

In a typical race weekend, the MotoGP class consists of seven sessions across Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and are set out as follows:

  • Friday: FP1/FP2
  • Saturday: FP3/FP4/Qualifying
  • Sunday: Warm-up/Race

Qualifying features two sessions: Qualifying 1 and Qualifying 2.

The riders who set the top 10 fastest lap times from the first three practice sessions advance straight into Q2, with the rest of the riders starting in Q1. Q1 sets the grid from the fifth row backwards, with the top two in Q1 progressing to Q2, which sets the first four rows of the grid. Each row consists of three bikes.

On the Sunday of a race weekend, the warm-up session happens in the morning, and allows the riders to make any final adjustments to the set-up of their bike before the race gets underway.

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Extra Knowledge

MotoGP riders have a spare bike to hand in each round, which they can use if their primary bike needs fixed due to a crash or mechanical problem. However this spare bike is usually set-up in a different way, for example it may be adjusted more to wet conditions, in case the rider needs to come in to the pits during a race to switch to a bike with a wet set-up.

In a MotoGP race, the only time a rider will come into the pits is if the track conditions change from dry to wet or vice versa, in order to switch to a bike which is set-up for the wet, or for the dry.

At the chequered flag, the top 15 riders score points, with first place scoring 25 points and 15th scoring one point. There are no bonus points awarded.

The reigning champion of the MotoGP class is Joan Mir, who won after an incredibly tight battle in 2020.

2021 pre-season testing is due to get underway in Malaysia in February.

Below is a table of the 2021 teams and their respective riders.
Team Riders
Team Suzuki Ecstar Joan Mir
Alex Rins
Petronas Yamaha SRT Franco Morbidelli
Valentino Rossi
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Brad Binder
Miguel Oliveira
Ducati Team Jack Miller
Francesco Bagnaia
Pramac Racing Johann Zarco
Jorge Martin*
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Maverick Viñales
Fabio Quartararo
Red Bull KTM Tech 3 Danilo Petrucci
Iker Lecuona
LCR Honda Takaaki Nakagami
Alex Marquez
Repsol Honda Team Pol Espargaro
Marc Marquez
Esponsorama Racing Luca Marini*
Enea Bastianini*
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini** Aleix Espargaro
Lorenzo Savadori
Bradley Smith

*Rookie, **Savadori/Smith to be given rider/test rider roles after winter testing