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2020 taught us a lot of things. But one of the major highlights from a challenging year off track was how competitive MotoGP™ was on track, a season where we witnessed a record-equalling nine winners and saw a magnificent 15 riders finish on the podium.
And it seems the thrilling nature of MotoGP™ has caught the eye of one of motorsports biggest stars. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen spoke to motorsport.com about how good the racing is in MotoGP™, commenting on how riders can win even when they don’t qualify on the front three rows.
“We need the racing in F1 to be more exciting and drivers to be able to follow other cars more closely and not that qualifying is the deciding factor during a race weekend as it is right now,” began the nine-time F1 race winner.
“Take a look at the MotoGP Championship for example. Even if you qualify 10th, you can still win the race. That hardly happens in Formula 1, just because it's so difficult to follow other cars at most of our circuits.”
The likes of 2020 World Champion Joan Mir and Team Suzuki Ecstar teammate Alex Rins have flown the flag in this department. Rins’ first win of the season came from P10 on the grid at MotorLand Aragon, with second place finisher Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) carving his way through from P11 on the start line. And that was no flash in the pan from the 2019 Moto2™ World Champion. His wet weather second place masterclass at the French GP came from the Spaniard starting from P18.
At the Teruel GP, the second of the MotorLand battles, Mir qualified P12 but managed to claw his way back to P3 at the chequered flag – not the first time the now double World Champion would display such quality on a Sunday. In his seven podium finishes, Mir’s best qualifying was P5, the day he won his first premier class race at the European GP. Twice Mir came from outside the top 10 to spray the bubbly and just three of the rostrums were secured from the second row.
It shows how good the racing is in MotoGP™ when you take into consideration that Mir is the first premier class World Champion to fail to pick up a pole position since Wayne Gardner in 1992. It also displays the class of Mir and Suzuki in 2020. Rins was sometimes a demon on a Sunday afternoon, his Barcelona third place came from P13 on the grid, and his sensational P4 in Brno while riding with his shoulder injury still causing troubles was from P11 in qualifying.
Couple all that with the fact Independent Teams have won over half of the races in 2020, only four races saw podiums without an Independent Team rider on it, half the riders in the overall top 10 were Independent Team riders and we saw the first all-Independent Team podium since 2004 when Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3), Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) stood on the box, it shows just what a scintillating World Championship MotoGP™ is.
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