Motorsport has been dominated by star performers throughout its existence. Across all sports and disciplines, eras have seen imperious stretches of form by standout drivers. All motorsport enthusiasts enjoy seeing the best rise to the top, but it has made a lot of the action on the track rather predictable. It is a common trait shared by MotoGP and Formula One. Both sports have attempted to even the odds for their competitors throughout their ranks, but it has not prevented dominant teams and drivers from sweeping up all the plaudits and titles.
Dating back to the origins of MotoGP, there has always a flurry of successive championship winners. Geoff Duke, John Surtees, and Mike Hailwood enjoyed consecutive wins in the 500cc division before Italy’s Giacomo Agostini won seven crowns on the bounce between 1966 and 1972. There was a relative period of calm over the 1980s before Mick Doohan won five titles on the bounce. Then of course there was the great Valentino Rossi.
The Italian is arguably the greatest rider in the history of the MotoGP, having won the championship in seven of nine years between 2001 and 2009. Now, Marc Marquez has blazed a similar trail by claiming the title six times since his first crown in 2013. Rossi achieved his feats of excellence with both Honda and Yamaha, while Marquez has remained at Honda throughout his career.
It’s great for MotoGP to have icons of the sport that are instantly recognizable, but there is an element of predictability despite Joan Mir’s victory in 2020. Mir broke Marquez’s cycle of triumphs, although the latter was sidelined for the entirety of the last campaign.
Formula One shares the issue with their motorsport counterpart. Since 2000, there have only been seven winners of the Drivers’ Championship. Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton have held a monopoly of the crowns, winning 12 titles between them. Sebastian Vettel enjoyed an impressive winning streak between 2009 and 2013, while Fernando Alonso notched two crowns in 2005 and 2006. Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, and Nico Rosberg complete the list of winners over the last 21 years, which has not enjoyed a great deal of variety.
Hamilton is on the path to becoming the most successful driver of all time, being backed in the F1 betting odds at -138 to win the Drivers’ Championship for the eighth time. The Brit has been an icon and ambassador for the sport across the world and deserves all the accolades that come his way. However, there is a real sense of predictability as there was when Schumacher was at the peak of his powers. There has been no rivalry in the great days of the sport to capture the attention when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost battled for the crown during the 1990s, and previously in the 1970s when James Hunt and Niki Lauda went toe-to-toe.
Max Verstappen appears to be waiting in the wings to replace Hamilton as the dominant driver at the top of Formula One, meaning that the cycle will only repeat itself in the future. The question is whether that is the best for the sport? It is entertaining to see greatness at work, but sport thrives on competition right until the end of the contest. We’re not seeing that at the moment across both MotoGP and Formula One.