MotoGP 2021 mid-season rider ratings - The Race
MotoGP

MotoGP 2021 mid-season rider ratings

Jul 29 2021
By Simon Patterson

Over the course of the 2021 MotoGP season so far, we’ve assessed every rider after every race, giving them a rating out of 10 to put a number on their performance on that particular weekend.

Our 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.

But now that it’s the half-way point of the season, we thought we’d take the chance to look back on how those riders have fared on average scores across the races they’ve competed in so far this year.

Fabio Quartararo – 8.8

Best result: 1st at Doha, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands
Worst result: 13th at Spain

Fabio Quartararo wins Assen MotoGP 2021

No surprise at all to see championship leader Fabio Quartararo clearly ahead of the rest of the MotoGP field in our ratings just like he is on the points table. The Frenchman has found a new maturity this year as a factory Yamaha rider and it’s been well-reflected in his performances on the track.

Aiding to his high score is that even his weaker weekends haven’t been self-inflicted, with only arm pump in Jerez and a leathers malfunction in Barcelona costing him significant points. And, with both happening while he was fighting for two more victories, it’s reflected in his commanding lead.

Pecco Bagnaia – 6.8

Best result: 2nd at Portugal, Spain
Worst result: DNF at Italy

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Bagnaia’s high position on the ratings is reflective of his preseason expectations versus the reality of his consistent performances all year, with the new factory Ducati rider very much signed as their second rider to be Jack Miller’s wingman – yet it’s the youngster who is doing a better job so far.

Miller might be the double race winner, but it’s Bagnaia whose consistency has been a stand-out of the year. If he can continue it into the second half of the year and can find just a little bit more speed to take a few wins, he can be a race winner.

Johann Zarco – 6.8

Best result: 2nd at Qatar, Doha, France, Catalunya
Worst result: DNF at Portugal

Johann Zarco Pramac Ducati Sachsenring MotoGP 2021

Everyone loves an underdog story, and Johann Zarco’s tale of the season so far is definitely that. The veteran rider has impressed since the season opener in Qatar, when he fought for the win before eventually taking second, and he’s maintained that high level since. Pramac Racing are MotoGP’s highest-profile team without a win, but it only seems to be a matter of time before that box is ticked in 2021.

The only thing keeping him from scoring higher is a little inconsistency on occasion. It seems that he either has a really good weekend or a rather average one – a common Ducati problem of old. Unfortunately, that and his satellite status means it’s hard to see him as a 2021 title contender come the end of the year – but bigger surprises have happened.

Jorge Martin – 6.7

Best result: 3rd at Doha
Worst result: DNF at Netherlands

Jorge Martin Pramac Ducati MotoGP

Martin’s score is a little skewed by the number of races he’s had this year, with injury and four rounds watching from the sidelines meaning that he’s got less of a sample size.

Yet it’s testament to just how fast the rookie has been that he’s scored as highly as he has. Pole position and a podium finish in only his second race is the highlight of the year, but there’ll be more to come from him once he returns fully fit in the second half of the year.

Marc Marquez – 6.6

Best result: 1st at Germany
Worst result: DNF at France, Italy, Catalunya

Marc Marquez

It’s hard to categorise Marc Marquez’s year so far, but the quite average rating perhaps captures the highs and lows of his season so far as he returns from what could have been a career-ending injury. Winning in Germany was an obvious high, but silly mistakes like in Le Mans have balanced that out.

The five-week break is the best thing he could have hoped for though, and it’ll be a stronger Marquez who returns to action in August.

Aleix Espargaro – 6.1

Best result: 6th at Portugal, Spain
Worst result: DNF at France, Catalunya

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Slightly above average seems about right for Aleix Espargaro, who so far has put together a season that is impressive for an Aprilia rider if perhaps a little below his pre-season expectations given how much the RS-GP has improved in the past year.

A podium is the thing that’s eluded them so far, but if he can achieve that while maintaining current form, his score will shoot up in the second half.

Joan Mir – 5.8

Best result: 3rd at Portugal, Italy, Netherlands
Worst result: DNF at France

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This doesn’t feel like an unfair score for the reigning world champion, who in all honesty should have achieved more than he has in the opening races of the year. He’s been fast but inconsistent, and a title defence isn’t quite looking on the cards as we reach the halfway point.

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But Suzuki knew that the first half of the year would be hard, given the tracks and tyre allocation it was facing. It would be happy enough to be average at the mid-way point if Mir can pull off the hinted-at second half surge.

Brad Binder – 5.8

Best result: 4th at Germany
Worst result: DNF at Spain

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Binder scoring fractionally more than team-mate Oliveria is perhaps a surprise – but it shows the expectation versus reality of their seasons so far. Similarly hampered by KTM’s frame problems and similarly unable to overcome them with technique alone, he did manage a better start to the year than his Portuguese compatriot, even if Oliveira has outperformed since.

However, with his team-mate stepping up his game in the races leading into the summer break, the pressure is now on the South African to return to the podium for the first time since taking a rookie win in only his third MotoGP race at Brno last year.

Miguel Oliveira – 5.7

Best result: 1st at Catalunya
Worst result: DNF at France

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It’s easy to chalk up Oliveria’s early season slump to KTM’s woes with the Michelin tyre allocation – something it seems to have fixed now with a new frame.

But it still seems fair that he’s not scored as highly as some of the other 2021 race winners, when the reality is that a racer of his calibre should be consistently closer to the front. He seems to have fixed the problems though, and the second half of the year is going to be very interesting indeed for him.

Jack Miller – 5.7

Best result: 1st at Spain, France
Worst result: DNF at Portugal, Netherlands

Jack Miller Ducati MotoGP Assen

Another rider who has shown real highs and lows in 2021, what Miller has demonstrated is that when he’s on his best form he’s almost unstoppable – but in the meantime, he really needs to address his consistency if he’s to be seriously treated as a title contender. That’s reflected in his score, as he’s a rider who has been marked high or low rather than average throughout the opening nine races.

Enea Bastianini – 5.6

Best result: 9th at Portugal
Worst result: DNF at Spain, Italy

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The reigning Moto2 world champion leads the way right now in the MotoGP rookie of the year standings and rightly so, after a strong start to the year that’s seen him adapt quickly to the premier class. He’s made a few rookie mistakes along the way, which is only to be expected, but so far he’s done a fine job of rewarding Avintia Racing and Ducati for putting their faith in him.

Lorenzo Savadori – 5.5

Best result: 14th at Portugal
Worst result: DNF at Spain, Italy

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An average score for a ride who has largely met his expectations for the year, without either regularly surpassing them or falling short of them. Thrown into Aprilia at the deep end without much world championship experience and very much a secondary rider to Aleix Espargaro, Savadori has stayed on the bike, done a lot of testing and hoovered up points when he can.

Luca Marini – 5.4

Best result: 12th at Portugal, France, Italy
Worst result: 18th at Doha, Netherlands

Luca Marini VR46 Ducati MotoGP

We expected Luca Marini to be something of a slow starter in MotoGP this year, because that’s the approach that the former Moto2 front-runner has always taken to his racing – and he’s pretty much done as expected. Not setting the world on fire but creeping his way towards the front, he’s building himself up well for what is largely expected to be a stronger campaign with the VR46 Ducati team in 2022.

Iker Lecuona – 5

Best result: 9th at France
Worst result: DNF at Doha, Italy, Netherlands

Iker Lecuona Tech3 KTM MotoGP Jerez

It’s quite a surprise to say it, but Iker Lecuona has managed to embarrass veteran team-mate Danilo Petrucci somewhat this year, by showing on multiple occasions that he’s perhaps better suited to the satellite KTM and able to wring its neck on occasion.

Marked down for an obvious lack of consistency, if he can find a way to stay on the bike more often then he can achieve something impressive in the latter stages of the year as KTM’s upgrades start to filter down to him. That’s important, considering there’s at least one of the duo due is set to lose their seat next year and rumours of Petronas Yamaha interest in the young Spaniard.

Franco Morbidelli – 4.9

Best result: 3rd at Spain
Worst result: 18th at Qatar, Germany

Franco Morbidelli Petronas Yamaha MotoGP

Franco Morbidelli is, if nothing else, a trier, with the Petronas Yamaha rider finishing every race this year even if some of them were under less than auspicious circumstances. Yet it’s still been a disappointment for him, with only a single podium to show for the three-time 2020 race winner – and major surgery on a persistent knee injury the biggest headline he’s generated this season.

It’s hard to explain why things have gone so wrong for him so far, but the reality is that his average score is perhaps a little generous based on the disappointment the season has brought his way. He’s due to sit out at least the next three races, and it’s looking increasingly like this year will be a complete write-off for him.

Taka Nakagami – 4.6

Best result: 4th at Spain
Worst result: DNF at Qatar, Italy

Takaaki Nakagami Portimao MotoGP LCR Honda

Another rider whose season has been really disappointing so far is LCR Honda’s Taka Nakagami, with 2020’s title-challenging consistency (at least in the opening half of the year) seemingly completely abandoned, replaced with crash after crash and not much in the way of good results.

His score makes him look good, and comes thanks mainly to his role as leading Honda on multiple occasions. It’s no surprise that this year’s bike is worse than last year’s (and even more so than the year-old machine he had in 2020), but he needs to at least target Pol Espargaro for the remainder of the season to mark it down as not a complete disaster.

Maverick Vinales – 4.4

Best result: 1st at Qatar
Worst result: 19th at Germany

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Maverick Vinales’ year couldn’t be more of a rollercoaster if it tried. From stunning victory in the opening round of the year to the heartache of finishing last in Germany, it bounced back with an excellent P2 in Assen just hours before announcing Yamaha would break his contract a year earlier than planned.

Given that his main issue seems to be motivation and a complete failure to gel with the bike (his team-mate leads the championship and these ratings, after all), it’s honestly hard to see how he can turn that around for the second half of the year – and it could mean there’s plenty more painful viewing ahead.

Alex Rins – 3.9

Best result: 4th at Doha
Worst result: DNF at Portugal, France, Italy

Alex Rins crash Le Mans MotoGP 2021

Some riders have been left looking better than perhaps they deserve by their rating, but it’s maybe the reverse is the case with Alex Rins, who has been consistently fast despite just not being able to finish the job off. All too quick to crash out of the lead (coupled with a spectacularly stupid cycling accident in Barcelona that saw him miss two races), he’s clearly got the speed he needs to win races.

He needs to find how to use that pace in a stronger way, though; he needs to stop crashing and to find a better way to manage pressure from the riders behind him when he’s fighting at the front. If he can do that, there’s still time to make 2021 something to celebrate rather than forget.

Valentino Rossi – 3.8

Best result: 10th at Italy
Worst result: DNF at Portugal, Catalunya, Netherlands

Valentino Rossi

The only thing making Valentino Rossi’s 2021 look even mediocre at best is that the expectations from the year was for him to only perform at that level in the first place, given his abysmal 2020 form. Rather than reinvigorate him, the move to satellite team Petronas Yamaha seems to have completely failed to check his slide into obscurity, and an expected imminent retirement announcement is no surprise to anyone.

Danilo Petrucci – 3.6

Best result: 5th at France
Worst result: DNF at Qatar, Catalunya, Germany

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On one hand, Danilo Petrucci has drawn the short end of the stick at Tech3 KTM. Understandably receiving upgrades at a slower pace than the factory riders and already needing something different thanks to his size and weight – something the RC16 seems particularly sensitive to – he’s struggled so far.

But on the other hand, he’s a vastly experienced rider, and he’s made some real rookie errors this year. All in all, scoring so low (especially given strong results from his teammate Lecuona) doesn’t seem like a huge disservice to Petrucci.

Alex Marquez – 3.6

Best result: 6th at France
Worst result: DNF at Qatar, Doha, Spain, Germany

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When Alex Marquez joined the Repsol Honda team at the eleventh hour to replace Jorge Lorenzo for 2020, many expected a repeat of his early years in Moto2 – consistency, crashes and maybe even injury. He surprised by doing a fine job, even securing Honda’s only two podiums of the year.

What that meant was higher expectations for 2021 even as he moved to satellite team LCR – but he’s gone and delivered what we expected of him in his rookie season instead. Crash-happy and with very few positives to show for his season so far, this score seems right.

Pol Espargaro – 3.1

Best result: 8th at Qatar, France
Worst result: DNF at Portugal, Catalunya

Pol Espargaro Honda Assen MotoGP 2021

When you move to Repsol Honda, you either sink or you swim – and Pol Espargaro is definitely in need of a life jacket right about now. He talked a big game coming into the year, adamant even after an eighth place at the opening race that a title challenge was possible.

Instead, he’s been outperformed by an injured Marc Marquez and hasn’t even come close to a podium let alone a championship. He’s a victim of his own words, but unless he finds a way of making the RC213V work for him sooner rather than later, a low rating will be the least of his worries.

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