The Max Verstappen and Marc Marquez issue
Comparing the problems Red bull and Repsol Honda are having in their other seats.
MotoGP and Formula 1 are as far as you can get in the racing spectrum. One is an open wheel racing series and the other is a motor bike championship. And both are the kings in their own rights.
Yet, there are some parallels to compare, such as the young drivers and riders who are promised to be future champions and have become champions. On the F1 side, the young gun everyone is talking about is Max Verstappen, while he does seem like an veteran to F1 fans who have been watching the sport for a while, he is only 23, and all he needs to fight for the championship is a more capable machinery. Marc Marquez on the other hand, is a champion, taking the title on his debut season in the championship and is the reigning MotoGP champion.
However, while it is champagne and trophies on their side of the garage, their teammates are not so fortunate, with Alex Ablon taking only one podium so far this season, and Alex Marquez taking 2.
This highlights a large problem in these teams, the dependency on one driver. Sure we have seen dominant championships taken by one driver while their teammate was an afterthought, however, Marc Marquez’s 2019 campaign showed how much of an afterthought someone’s teammate can be. Not to say that Honda forgot about Jorge Lorenzo, but that the bike was built around Marquez so much, that Lorenzo struggled to break into the top ten even once that season. However, let’s not forget the injuries that plagued Lorenzo as well.
In an interview, fellow Honda team mate Cal Crutchlow said: ” Marc knows no one else can ride the Honda… Of course, he always wants to improve the bike, but he's happy with what he's got, because he's the fastest and most competitive with it”
This dependency can be seen in Honda’s 2020 campaign where without M.Marquez, the team and Manufacturer are nowhere in the Championship. All their other riders cannot get the most out of their Honda.
A similar situation is occurring in F1 where Red bull have a car that only Max Verstappen can get the most out of. The proof is in the sister Red Bull which in 2 seasons, has only taken 1 podium compared to the 17 so far, of Max Verstappen. This begs the question, what is going on? Well as aforementioned, the team and machinery are focused around Max Verstappen, which makes the job of less experienced drivers such as Alexander Albon and Pierre Gasly, that much more challenging.
It seems as if finally, Honda have been able to cater for their other riders, backed up by the fact that Alex Marquez scored 2 consecutive podiums in the last two races and Cal Crutchlow’s brilliant qualifying performances in those two rounds. However, Alex Albon hasn’t had the same turn around in F1 (have you realised yet that both these teams are factory Honda teams?). When Albon scored his maiden podium in Mugello, we all thought that this would be a turn around, he has got confidence back and he can surely use that momentum to his advantage, however it’s been a full 360 as he scored 0 points in the following two rounds.
To sum up then, these 2 contrasting examples show the dependency that can be created on a driver/rider when a team places their eggs in one basket. Marc Marquez’s absence shows how a problem can be created when the person your machinery is built around is absent.