MotoGP and Formula 1 are two of the fastest motorsports on the planet. They each come with their own distinct set of challenges, and both sets of drivers are pushed to the limits of themselves and the tracks on which they race. But which is faster?
Formula 1 cars are much faster than MotoGP bikes, and thus the lap times for F1 cars are much shorter than those of MotoGP.
But there is a lot more than just shorter lap times to consider when comparing the two sports. Aside from the fact that F1 cars have twice as many wheels, there are plenty of other factors that separate F1 and MotoGP. Let’s take a look at the differences and similarities between MotoGP and F1.
The Differences Between The Two
The Main Differences
The main and most obvious difference between MotoGP and Formula 1 is the fact that F1 cars have four wheels to the bikes have two. This presents different challenges for each vehicle, which we will discuss more soon. Aside from the number of tires, the weight of each is also very different. A MotoGP bike weighs around 157kg on its own, while an F1 car and its driver must weigh a minimum of 740kg.
Obviously,the car is much bigger than the bike, and this means their engines are also much bigger as well. The bikes use a four cylinder, 1-liter engine, capable of around 280 horsepower. The F1 cars use a 1.6-liter, hybrid V6 engine, which can output around 1000 horsepower. This means the power to weight ratio of the bike is higher than that of the car, but there is much more to it than simply power.
Aerodynamics & Downforce
The aerodynamics and downforce packages of the F1 cars allow for massive cornering speeds, which the bikes do not match. Although they are fairly aerodynamic, and can reach high speeds on the straights, the bikes do not have the grip that the F1 cars have. Although both provide spectacles for the crowds, there is a big gulf between the two, and so are they comparable?
Are They Comparable?
The fact that the bikes have two wheels makes it very difficult to compare them to any car with four. Street bikes are often compared to street cars, but with MotoGP and F1 it is completely different. The bikes used in MotoGP are not a million miles away from the high-end bikes you might find on the street, but F1 cars are about as far away from your road car as you can get.
Big Power Difference
The difference in power is enough to make most people realize that these are two very different breeds of vehicle, but if not then simply looking at the aerodynamics and downforce involved in F1 should make things clear. F1 cars hold the track very well, while motorbikes just by their very nature do not. This means safety comes into play quite a lot in MotoGP, as it does in F1 too.
The two motorsports rarely visit the same tracks, and when they do there are often changes made to accommodate the bikes. Chicanes are sometimes removed for example, and this can make them even harder to compare. F1 cars can take corners at huge speeds due to their downforce capabilities, whereas the riders in MotoGP have to slow down substantially.
A Different Driving Style
As they take corners, they move their bodies and their knees often touch the ground. F1 drivers are still fighting with massive G forces, but their bodies are not as exposed as those on the bikes. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are safer, but it can make it much easier to commit to corners at high speeds. The extra two tires also mean they have much more grip than the bikes.
The tires themselves are much wider on the cars, and this means the contact patch, and thus the amount of grip available, is much bigger. MotoGP bikes can top 200mph on the straights, as can F1 cars, but F1 cars can also take the corners at 100+mph, while the bikes have to slow down much more. But regardless of the differences in the driving, how do their lap times compare?
Which Is Fastest?
Formula 1 cars are much faster than MotoGP bikes, and thus the lap times for F1 cars are much shorter than those of MotoGP. As we have said, there are few tracks where both MotoGP and F1 can hold races. And even when they can, there are often some changes made for the bikes. Nonetheless, there are still two standout examples that illustrate just how big the gap is between F1 and MotoGP.
Silverstone in Great Britain is one of these tracks. The MotoGP lap record from 2019 was set by Marc Marquez, and he went round the track with a time of 1 minute 58.168 seconds. In 2020, Max Verstappen broke the F1 lap record with a time of 1 minute 27.097 seconds. That is a difference of more than 30 seconds between Formula 1 and MotoGP at Silverstone.
Circuit Of The Americas
The F1 lap record at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, is 1 minute 36.169 seconds, with the fastest qualifying lap around 4 seconds faster still. The record for MotoGP, set in 2014, was 2 minutes 3.575 seconds, again around 30 seconds slower than the F1 lap. This difference is massive, when you consider that the gap between first and second place in both sports is usually less than a second.
Riders from MotoGP may take certain corners in second or third gear, and F1 drivers might take the same corners in fifth or sixth gear. The massive amount of downforce the cars generate, paired with the colossal amount of grip at each tire means F1 cars can take some corners flat out. Although the bikes are often faster accelerating to around 120mph, the F1 car can do this speed through most corners.
MotoGP and Formula 1 are two very different sports, although they share the intensity element, along with massive amounts of speed. The F1 cars can take corners much faster due to their high levels of grip and downforce, and although the bikes can beat them on the straights, this ability to take corners at speed can allowF1 cars to finish laps around 30 seconds faster than the bikes.