Basketball or football?

Former MotoGP™ commentator reflects on the age-old argument of MotoGP™ vs F1 after the four-wheeled series visited Mugello over the weekend

What a unique weekend. MotoGP™ and Formula One Grands Prix in the same country on the same day. Two major but very different World Championship motorsport events in Italy in these challenging times. Two wheels at Misano and four wheels for the very first time at the legendary MotoGP™ venue in Mugello.

I remember once asking Max Mosley, the President at the time of the FIA who controlled Formula One, why there was not more overtaking in Formula One in comparison to Grand Prix motorcycle racing. As always, he came up with a very clever reply.

Mosley likened Formula One to football and Grand Prix motorcycle racing to basketball. On two wheels plenty of overtaking similar to baskets in basketball adding up to the ultimate score and result. In Formula One he suggested that one decisive overtaking manoeuvre in the complete race could produce victory as a single goal can in football.

Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley, Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello

If you think the weekend was unique, there was a time when they would run car races and a motorcycle Grands Prix on the same day at the same circuit. It was a recipe for disaster and controversy which came to a head in the 1974 West German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Car racers wanted unprotected Armco barriers to stop them from crashing off the track. The motorcycle riders rightly wanted those barriers protected by straw bales. The organisers would not supply enough and so the Grand Prix riders, led by MV Agusta team-mates Phil Read and Giacomo Agostini, refused to race.

As so often happened in those dangerous and uncaring times, the organisers insisted the Grand Prix went ahead. They persuaded just seven local German riders to compete while the World Championship stars looked on or went home. There were just four finishers in the 159.845km race around the 22.835km Nürburgring circuit. Yamaha rider Edmund Czihak won with nearly two minutes to spare to secure his only ever World Championship points with a win.

What a day of racing at Misano. A British win in Moto3™, Valentino Rossi’s half-brother’s victory in Moto2™ and then Franco Morbidelli’s maiden MotoGP™ win. It was the first time since the Sachsenring in 2002 that Italian riders won the premier and intermediate class races on the same day.  Five separate MotoGP™ winners and four for the very first time. Dovizioso leading the Championship despite only finishing seventh and it all starts again on Friday morning.

The two Grands Prix did not clash on television times and so I switched over to watch the Formula One race in Mugello. I was fascinated to see just how those magnificent and so fast cars would fare on such a great MotoGP™ circuit. I discovered immediately that when Formula One cars crash, they crash big with the safety car leading the way for the opening laps. When they finally got racing it was an impressive sight because they are so quick.

If the two Grands Prix had clashed at the same time on the television which would I have watched live? I think you know the answer.

I may love my football, but basketball came out well on top this weekend and always will do.

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