Once again, we’ve been served up a MotoGP race with more to write about than anyone would like, as Fabio Quartararo’s bizarre wardrobe malfunction served to overshadow an outstanding performance by KTM rider Miguel Oliveira.
But there was still plenty of on-track action to look at too at Barcelona, with, as usual in MotoGP, strong performances from some and big errors from more than usual in tricky conditions.
With that in mind we have ranked the whole grid based on their Sunday performances.
Our MotoGP ranking system is simple: the riders who we believe performed the best are at the top, and the ones who underplayed are at the bottom, and scored appropriately.
It isn’t just about the end result though, with pre-race expectation and form heavily influencing their eventual score – not just the points they take home with them.
Miguel Oliveira – 9.5
Started: 4th Finished: 1st
A work of art from the Portuguese rider, Sunday’s win now confirms his status as an all-round contender as he’s produced a victory in very different style from his previous two – which had been one runaway victory and one last-corner steal. Now he’s conquered Fabio Quartararo in a full near-race-long duel.
The only thing keeping him from a perfect 10 as he gets KTM’s winning ambitions back on track is the question mark over what would have happened had Quartararo not essentially been taken out of contention – because winning a race and winning a knife fight with the championship leader isn’t quite the same thing.
Jack Miller – 9
Started: 2nd Finished: 3rd
A solid performance when things aren’t going well isn’t always a Jack Miller speciality, as we saw earlier this year with a few poor results to kick off the season.
So, the ability to suffer through a tough weekend and grind out an excellent result at the end of it shows how he’s maturing into his factory Ducati role nicely, even if it’s not quite another win.
The sort of ride that backs up his claim of being a title contender.
Fabio Quartararo – 8.5
Started: 1st Finished: 6th
Another weekend where you’ve got to feel sorry for Fabio Quartararo when what looked like a bolted-on victory was taken away from him by the most unusual of circumstances – but it’s his actions leading up to the moment when his leathers came open that gives the most hope for the future.
Riding well, coming back through the pack after being beaten up in the early stages, and looking set to pounce on Oliveira even if he admitted afterwards that he’s not sure it would have worked, like with Miller it was the ride of a potential champion.
Johann Zarco – 7
Started: 3rd Finished: 2nd
Another spot-on Zarco ride, once again doing nothing too dramatic, keeping his cool, and taking his chances where they were available.
The main problem for him is that he took them a little too late and once again missed out on victory, this time by a mere 0.1 seconds, when he could have struck out a little sooner against Oliveira and potentially caught the KTM rider napping a little on the last lap.
Maverick Vinales – 6
Started: 6th Finished: 5th
A race where Maverick Vinales did a good enough job to be happy about it afterwards, but wasn’t as fast as he should have been. He’s still clearly not mastering Yamaha’s new launch control device the way Quartararo has, but it was his only real weak point of the race.
Dial in the start better, and it’s easy to see why Vinales was so upbeat after the race. Are things finally starting to look up?
Pecco Bagnaia – 6
Started: 9th Finished: 7th
Bagnaia self-sabotaged his own race on Sunday by going the wrong way with tyre choice, starting the grand prix with a medium that didn’t last the distance.
Yet he then rode well to limit the damage, making up for his pre-race inexperience with a sensible ride that brought home some solid points – and Quartararo’s eventual double penalty means it almost couldn’t have worked out much better.
Enea Bastianini – 6
Started: 17th Finished: 10th
Another strong performance for the rookie, another top 10, and another day to be pleased with.
Sure, it came at a track he loves and always does well at, but that doesn’t in any way diminish the excellent results that Bastianini has brought to 2021 on a bike that’s not really at the same level as some of the more established machines on the grid.
Joan Mir – 5.5
Started: 10th Finished: 4th
Damage limitation, the usual Mir buzzwords – except this time, he got even luckier with Quartararo’s double penalty.
But it could have been so much better, had he not opted for the wrong tyres, because his opening lap performance clearly showed that he had the pace for great things. A hard rear tyre would have left him on the podium, and he could rue that later in the year.
Lorenzo Savadori – 5
Started: 21st Finished: 15th
Admitting afterwards that he came into the race under-prepared, Aprilia’s underrated second man once again did a quietly solid job, taking home some points, doing nothing silly and gathering a lot of data that’ll be useful ahead of the one-day test at the track.
Luca Marini – 5
Started: 19th Finished: 12th
Marini described his race as being ‘as expected’ afterwards, and that’s a fair assessment.
Still not doing anything crazy on the VR46 Ducati but learning his trade without making too many mistakes, he’ll have picked up a lot of new knowledge on the greasy Montmelo track – but unlike many more experienced rivals, did it without making an error.
Jorge Martin – 5
Started: 15th Finished: 15th
Considering he’s still riding injured and that he’s missed the past three races, a points finish was a good effort from Jorge Martin.
In fact, the main disappointment of his race came before it was even started, when he managed to crash out on the sighting lap and prevented himself from living up to his full potential, as he wrote off the preferred of his two bikes.
But he proved he’s on the mend, and another week’s R&R will do him no harm.
Brad Binder – 5
Started: 8th Finished: 8th
It doesn’t look great to just make it home inside the top 10 when your team-mate is winning the race, which means it wasn’t an exceptional day for usual Sunday specialist Brad Binder.
After making a terrible start and then struggling throughout with rear grip issues, eighth isn’t a disaster, but it’s also far from an exceptional result for the South African given Oliveira’s performances on the other works KTM.
Franco Morbidelli – 4.5
Started: 5th Finished: 9th
Disappointing stuff from a man tipped as one of the pre-race favourites.
Morbidelli sounded a little lost after the race about what had gone wrong. Clearly the cooler track conditions played a role in affecting the Yamaha performances, but he didn’t just drop off a little – he plummeted through the rankings while factory Yamahas were having a relatively good day.
He’ll be disappointed with that one, even if he did salvage something with ninth.
Iker Lecuona – 4
Started: 16th Finished: DNF
It was a tough (and expensive!) weekend for Iker Lecuona at Barcelona, with several big crashes for the Tech3 rider – and nothing to show in the end.
But perhaps the worst thing is, he was putting on a good show on Sunday until he messed it up – perhaps an even better one than team-mate Petrucci. Saved by the Italian also crashing, if the inexperienced rider can learn to stay on the bike, there is potential there.
Alex Marquez – 4
Started: 20th Finished: 11th
It’s still hard to hear a rider of Alex Marquez’s calibre be delighted with 11th place, but he and his team celebrated it like a win after the race.
With Marquez still unable to get his LCR Honda to work and struggling with feeling from the bike, there’s an argument that points on the board is no bad thing after his start to the season, but it is nonetheless a case of ‘should do better’ for the 2020 double podium finisher.
Marc Marquez – 3.5
Started: 13th Finished: DNF
Marc Marquez tried to put a positive spin on his race performance after crashing out, and the reality is that there was plenty to be happy about as he ran towards the front in dry conditions for the first time in years.
But the crash proved that he still hasn’t understood the limits of his current physical condition, and until he does, he’ll continue to make unforced errors.
Aleix Espargaro – 3
Started: 7th Finished: DNF
Espargaro’s crash was perhaps an unexpected one. Struggling all weekend at Montmelo and overriding the bike in the race, he cooked the front tyre and crashed out.
Not too disheartened about it considering he wasn’t expecting an easy weekend, he still threw away a chance to maintain a streak of good dry-race performances for Aprilia.
Valentino Rossi – 2.5
Started: 11th Finished: DNF
Rinse and repeat for nearly every race this year – no rear grip, tyre didn’t work as well as planned, made a mistake and crashed.
Rossi’s result is harder to accept than even the usual poor performances we’ve come to expect, though, because on Saturday it really did look like he had something a little special this weekend.
Danilo Petrucci – 2
Started: 18th Finished: DNF
When your future is in doubt, the last thing you should do is keep crashing – and Danilo Petrucci needs to address that sooner rather than later.
Sure, he still doesn’t have the new frame that’s making all the difference for the factory KTM riders, but his job is as much collecting data and development as it is getting podiums, and he won’t be doing much of either from the gravel trap.
Taka Nakagami – 2
Started: 14th Finished: 13th
We all know that Honda had a difficult weekend, but there was much more on the table for Nakagami on Sunday had it not been for not one but two stupid mistakes.
Exceeding track limits early on and being handed a long-lap penalty, he then cut the lap – and had to do it again.
Rookie stuff, and he threw away a chance to be the best Honda by a big margin.
Pol Espargaro – 1
Started: 12th Finished: DNF
Frustrated, angry, dejected – there are many words you could use to describe Pol Espargaro’s mood after the race, and none of them are ones you’d like to hear if you’re a fan of his.
Yet the reality is clear: he hasn’t made the transition he needed to with the Honda – and it makes his and his crew chief’s pre-season talk of title hopes look rather silly when he’s crashing out of low positions.