When F1 and MotoGP worlds collide

Lewis Hamilton and Valentino Rossi’s swap of their machinery was not the first time top racers from the car and motorcycle racing world have ventured outside their comfort zone




  • The current and six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton put his name on the 2018 MV Augusta F4 RC LH44 as well as a Dragster 800 RR.
  • Valentino Rossi was once seriously considered by Ferrari to race in the Formula 1 World Championship.
  • Current and six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez tested a 2013 Scuderia Toro Rosso at the Red Bull Ring last year.
  • The 1964 F1 world champion John Surtees remains the only person to win world championship grand prix titles in both motorcycle and car racing.



The sight of Valentino Rossi in the all-conquering Mercedes AMG F1 team’s 2017 title-winning Formula 1 car and Lewis Hamilton on board the Yamaha MotoGP’s factory M1 motorcycle definitely got a lot of people excited.


Not so much because there is a chance of either racer trading places for a full season, but because who doesn’t love to compare and contrast experts from different racing disciplines?


Not to mention, the sight of MotoGP and F1’s most successful participants – among active riders and drivers – sharing a racetrack in each other’s ride set social media ablaze.



Also, it was fitting that Rossi drove Mercedes’ 2017 F1 car as it was back then that Toto Wolff had first offered the popular Italian a test. Rossi was no stranger to an F1 car as he had tested for Ferrari on multiple occasions between 2004 and 2010.


While yesterday’s run with Hamilton was just for fun, over 13 years ago, in pre-season F1 testing, Rossi made a serious run. Back in 2006, there were no testing restrictions and Rossi was in his prime at 27-years-old.



With Michael Schumacher’s future uncertain (he eventually retired at the end of 2006) Rossi was seriously considered as a replacement as he was able to cover multiple race distances to get used to the car.




Marquez rides a red bull


Over a decade later in 2018, MotoGP’s new dominant force – Marc Marquez – was able to get a chance to drive the 2013 Scuderia Toro Rosso car thanks toHonda supplying power units to Red Bull Racing’s junior team and also through common sponsor Red Bull.


Just like Monster Energy was a common sponsor between Mercedes and Yamaha for the Hamilton and Rossi swap.


This run was definitely just for fun, as the 25-year-old Marquez made the ‘beginner gains’ one expects from someone trying something new for the first time. These are much different times and a crossover from one discipline to another would be made difficult due to testing restrictions in both MotoGP and Formula 1.



Nonetheless, it was still fun to see Marquez experience the extra grip that a vehicle with four points of contact to the road and aerodynamic downforce offers. It is that extra grip and downforce that allows an F1 car to lap the same circuit over thirty seconds faster than a MotoGP bike.





The unique ones


Finally, we come those motorsport figures who met with some success in both two and four-wheel grand prix racing.


Mike ‘the bike’ Hailwood was incredibly successful on two-wheels, winning three 250cc world championships, two 350cc titles and four (that too in a row) 500cc world titles through the 1960s.


He had two stints of trying his hand at F1 from 1963 to 1965 and 1971 to 1974. He scored two podium finishes in his 50 starts and was one of the five drivers involved in the wild finish to the 1971 Italian Grand Prix at Monza. The top five drivers in that race were separated by just 0.61 seconds at the chequered flag, with Hailwood fourth just 0.18 seconds behind race winner Peter Genthin.


Then of course we come to the only man two have won a premier class motorcycle grand prix world championship and an F1 title; John Surtees.


Surtees was the 350cc world champion from 1958 to 1960 and the 500cc world champion in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960.


He triumphed in a thrilling three-way fight to the title in 1964 to steal the F1 world championship from Graham Hill and Jim Clark.


Going back even further to before the start of World War II, before the days of the world championship in cars or motorcycles, Tazio Nuvolari – believed to be the greatest racing driver of all-time – was an ace motorcycle racer who then successfully transitioned to four wheels with Alfa Romeo.

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