With Marc Marquez attempting to get back to winning ways at a track that he dominates on, we always knew we were in for an exciting time at this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.
What we got didn’t disappoint either, with the Repsol Honda racer destroying the field to show that while he might not yet be back to 100%, the old Marquez is still in there begging to be released.
He wasn’t the only interesting story of the weekend, mind you, with all sorts of excitement playing out right through the field to make for one of the most enthralling race weekends of the 2021 MotoGP season so far.
With that in mind, we have, as usual, 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.
Marc Marquez – 10
Started: 5th Finished: 1st
It’s hard to quantify just how amazing Marc Marquez’s win on Sunday was. A pure triumph of willpower and determination over physical and mechanical limitations, he really had no business doing what he did. The 2021 Honda is a dog – just look at where his compatriots finished. His body is still nowhere near back to the level it was once at.
Yet, coming to a track that he loves and dominates at, he knew he had a chance to win – and he took his shot. He dug deep, and he pulled off something extraordinary. Sure, it should be back to the usual struggle again next weekend at Assen – but who cares?
Fabio Quartararo – 9
Started: 2nd Finished: 3rd
Not for the first time this year, Fabio Quartararo rode like a champion on Sunday. Titles aren’t won when things are all going swimmingly (unless you’re Marc Marquez); they’re won when things are tough – and the finishing places of the other Yamahas showed just how tough things were. Yet the Frenchman never put a foot wrong, kept his cool, and it’s no surprise that he admitted that the third place felt like a win afterwards.
Brad Binder – 9
Started: 13th Finished: 4th
Making up nine places at the Sachsenring is no mean feat given there’s barely anywhere to overtake, and to do it when everyone in front of you has had a better weekend than you so far makes Brad Binder’s ride on Sunday an excellent achievement. Sure, he didn’t quite match his team-mate Oliveira in terms of a podium finish, but he arguably had the better race day.
Miguel Oliveira – 8
Started: 6th Finished: 2nd
Yet more absolutely sublime riding from Oliveira, as one of the smartest riders on the grid demonstrated his intelligence. Making excellent progress early on, he found himself in a position to hunt down Marc Marquez and for a while, it looked like it was going to happen. But, realising that the Honda rider had escaped his grasp, he then dialled it down, didn’t do anything stupid, and secured yet another excellent podium.
Pecco Bagnaia – 8
Started: 10th Finished: 5th
Damage limitation at its finest for championship contender Bagnaia. He looked to be in trouble throughout the weekend, didn’t do a great job in qualifying after getting trapped by yellow flags, but was able to rally in the race to take what in reality is one of his best results of the year. Sure, it’s not a podium finish, but like Quartararo, it’s the tough days when championships are won, not the easy ones.
Jack Miller – 7
Started: 4th Finished: 6th
Nothing to write home about from Miller on Sunday, but a solid finish at a difficult track and in unusual conditions is testament to the Aussie’s newfound consistency these days. Admitting that he got somewhat bogged down early on by Aleix Espargaro, unable to get past the Aprilia rider and losing time in the process, it’s still not a bad day out for him.
Jorge Martin – 7
Started: 7th Finished: 12th
An impressive weekend all round for the rookie, especially given that he’s the least experienced of them thanks to the races he missed recovering from injury. Still supremely strong in time attack mode and admittedly dropping back during the race, he nonetheless made sure that no one who shouldn’t have been there finished in front of him. A good foundation at a difficult track.
Valentino Rossi – 6
Started: 15th Finished: 14th
Not an easy Yamaha weekend means that to be best of the rest behind championship leader and podium finisher Quartararo makes it count as a success for Valentino Rossi. Sure, he won’t be happy to have finished 14th, but the reality is that he was a lot closer to his expected finishing position than Vinales or Morbidelli, and there has to be some solace in that as he heads to his beloved Assen next.
Luca Marini – 6
Started: 14th Finished: 15th
Another steady weekend for rookie Luca Marini without setting the world on fire, just like we expect from him. Points on the board at a track that isn’t very pro-Ducati, ahead of his team-mate, and with a load of data gathered it counts as a success for the Team Sky rider whose factory-spec bike for 2022 should be announced this week.
Aleix Espargaro – 5
Started: 3rd Finished: 7th
Expectations didn’t quite meet reality for Aleix Espargaro at the Sachsenring after a front-row start suggested that maybe the first-ever Aprilia podium of the modern era was on the cards. But, with conditions changing in the middle of the race, he admitted afterwards that he played it safe rather than pushing on in gently falling rain, and a safe seventh is definitely better than an early bath.
Alex Rins – 5
Started: 11th Finished: 11th
About bang on expectations for Suzuki rider Alex Rins on Sunday, given that it’s only two weeks since he underwent surgery to repair a broken wrist. Should probably lose more points for the stupidity of the cycling crash that caused it, but the fact that he was only two places off his team-mate Mir means it wasn’t an awful weekend for him.
Taka Nakagami – 4
Started: 9th Finished: 13th
Simply put, Taka Nakagami should have been better than 13th given what Marc Marquez was able to do at the front of the race on the same bike, and the LCR Honda rider was understandably frustrated about the drop in rear tyre life that cost him a top ten. The only silver lining is that he remained not too far off factory rider Pol Espargaro, perhaps a more realistic marker than Marquez.
Iker Lecuona – 4
Started: 20th Finished: 17th
On paper not an exceptional result for Iker Lecuona, but given that he was taken straight to the medical centre after the race with suspected food poisoning, it’s perhaps a case of damage limitation rather than anything else. It felt like there might be more on offer, but as his physical condition deteriorated, we didn’t get to see it.
Johann Zarco – 4
Started: 1st Finished: 8th
It’s indicative of Johann Zarco’s 2021 form that we’re disappointed to see him finish as far back as eighth, but given his season-long consistency and his pole-position pace in Germany, it felt like there was going to be more on offer than that. Unable to stay on the tail of Marquez in the early laps and paying the price as his tyres faded, it wasn’t the weekend we expected from him.
Enea Bastianini – 4
Started: 18th Finished: 16th
Bastianini had something of a quiet weekend in Germany, as he struggled to make any real impact on the Esponsorama Ducati. Penalised on the grid for cruising during qualifying and struggling to overtake during the race, it was a quiet weekend for him and one he’ll be looking to forget.
Joan Mir – 3
Started: 16th Finished: 9th
How many times can the world champion sabotage his whole weekend on a Saturday before something has to start changing within the Suzuki camp? Coming from P16 it was always going to be a big ask to score good points, and pretty much the only positive to take from the weekend is that it’s done with and we’re moving on to a much more favourable track in the shape of Assen.
Pol Espargaro – 3
Started: 8th Finished: 10th
For someone who was brought into the Repsol Honda team to win races and support Marquez, the Sachsenring should have been prime territory for Pol Espargaro to finally get his career with HRC onto better footing. The first person you have to beat is your team-mate, and he once again failed to do that even given the physical limitations his team-mate is facing, and it asks yet more questions about Espargaro’s performances.
Lorenzo Savadori – 3
Started: 22nd Finished: DNF
It’s not like the Aprilia rider to fall, with his season so far being marked mainly by consistency above speed. But given the pace that his team-mate Aleix Espargaro enjoyed all weekend at the Sachsenring, it feels like something of a squandered opportunity to watch the Italian picking himself out of the gravel.
Danilo Petrucci – 3
Started: 19th Finished: DNF
Wiped out by Alex Marquez early on in the race, Petrucci never really got going. But the reality is that, given the huge step forward that KTM has made in recent weeks and given that he too now has the same upgraded parts as the factory effort, he should have been further forward on the grid in the first place if he wanted to stay out of trouble.
Alex Marquez – 2
Started: 12th Finished: DNF
Another weekend, another crash for Alex Marquez as he continues to spend more time watching races from the sidelines than competing in them. He once again managed to take Danilo Petrucci with him, and given that his brother showed how compatible the Honda is with the Sachsenring, it’s a poor showing from the LCR rider.
Franco Morbidelli – 2
Started: 17th Finished: 18th
Obviously, track conditions at the weekend didn’t suit the Yamahas to some extent or another – but it’s still a track that should, at the very least, hide some of the deficiencies with the M1. As a result, there’s really no excuse for Morbidelli to have spent the entire race outside of the points, especially when even team-mate Valentino Rossi managed to salvage something from Sunday’s race.
Maverick Vinales – 0
Started: 21st Finished: 19th
Disappointing to the point of shambolic on Sunday for Maverick Vinales. It’s clear that he’s going through some tough times at Yamaha, but his refusal to use his podium finisher team-mate’s settings, his admittance that he purposely dropped back in the closing stages of the race, and his position as last Yamaha from four means that it’s quite simply the worst weekend of his time as a MotoGP racer.