F1 Winter Break
Who has more power in their team; MotoGP riders or F1 drivers?
Posted By: Editor   |  13 Aug 2018   |  10:00 pm GMT  |  50 comments

Continuing our series of comparisons between two of motorsport’s top categories: F1 and Moto GP, we look at driver power.

Particularly relevant during Formula One’s ‘silly season’ is the debate about which drivers have the bigger say in what goes on at their team.

Does Fernando Alonso really run the show at McLaren? Do any of the championship protagonists genuinely have the power to veto any potential new recruits?

When compared to the top MotoGP riders, Formula One drivers seem to have little say in what goes on with their team.

Back in 2016, Lewis Hamilton (then a three-time champion) was unable to prevent a reshuffle of the Mercedes mechanics, something which he referred to a few times over the course of the season.

Compare that to the current situation at Yamaha, where the confusion within Yamaha while managing Maverick Vinale’s box is the best proof of the rider’s power in MotoGP.

Leaving aside races and final results, one of the main points of interest of the Czech Grand Prix was Viñales’ box.

On Friday, Ramon Forcada (Maverick’s track engineer) confirmed he was told by Yamaha that Viñales had decided not to work with him again after the last race of the season in Valencia. From that moment on, Esteban Garcia (currently Bradley Smith’s track engineer) will be the man replacing him.

Forcada was one of the key people at Yamaha when the brand won its last three titles with Jorge Lorenzo (2010, 2012 and 2015), but at Brno he didn’t understand why Viñales hadn’t said a word to him about his decision. It’s been a similar situation with Javier Ullate, the man who holds the bike each time Maverick gets into the box. He also has to look for a job in 2019.

On Saturday evening, however, Viñales backed down and offered Forcada the option of renewing for one more year.

This is just the best example to demonstrate a widespread theory in the MotoGP paddock: that nowadays riders have huge power over the team to take key decisions – even if the team itself believes those decisions are not beneficial.

Yamaha doesn’t want to lose Forcada, despite having succumbed to Maverick’s desires, and for that reason will place him inside Franco Morbidelli’s box, working with Yamaha’s satellite structure sponsored by Petronas.

“Now you not only hire a rider, you hire a multinational company. In the past, riders started to work in a factory and had to adapt themselves to the work system of the brand. That is the only thing you cannot buy; the rest of the things such as trucks and material is a matter of money. However, now, a rider has a lot of power. Sometimes, it’s the team who has to adapt itself to the rider,” Forcada told motorsport.com some months ago, as if anticipating what was going to happen.

“Every manufacturer does the same: it protects its rider, and that could be right from some points of view, but at the same time, it’s true that there are some things that the executives didn’t permit in the past,” he explained, without giving away too many details.

“Current riders have more influence on teams than ever before. Fifteen or twenty years ago, a rider was just another worker in the team; he spent many hours in the box and helped you to improve the bike. That doesn’t happen nowadays,” Forcada continued.

“At that time, any mechanic was fired because of the arrival of a new rider with his own mechanics. At most he could bring one with him, if there was an available spot. Now even a whole team can be fired. That is the result of the media hype,” concludes the Catalan.

By: Oriol Puidgemont

All images: Motorsport Images

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Alianora La Canta

I recall Robert Kubica once had a new-to-F1 engineer (in 2008) and then declared he wanted someone different in 2009. That request was granted without ceremony.

F1 drivers have as much power as MotoGP drivers – but in either case it will dramatically depend upon the state of the team in that time. A #2 rookie driver in F1, or someone new to MotoGP with zero track record, may have no special power in a well-established team.

On the other hand, Sergio Perez recently demonstrated he had, in one specific but vital way, more power than his alleged boss, Vijay Mallya, at Force India – through triggering the administration proceeding that resulted in the Strolls purchasing his team. I can’t think of any true analogies in MotoGP at this time, but if Yamaha’s effort had been about to go under through insufficient money, I could well imagine Valentino Rossi having enough “pull” to do the same.

The power difference between drivers in F1 and MotoGP is insignificant. The power difference between experienced drivers with charisma and leverage in a weakened team, and rookies in a strong team, is equally vast in either series – in theory. In practise, I think the average MotoGP team is stronger, and therefore less suspectible to driver influence… …but it’s subject to change. Political winds often vary.


I thought of this example too (also Felipe Massa, whose race engineer at Ferrari was replaced with Rob Smedley and then they both went to Williams together). Also, it’s the role of the team to give the rider what he needs to be successful; in the Vinales case I’d argue that the worst thing about it was the communication. He should have been upfront to Ramon Forcada (As I think Rossi was with Jeremy Burgess, his long-time crew chief) but in the end tried to get the team to do his work for him. Not the best, though he is still young.

I also agree with one wider point, which is that it depends very much on how you frame the argument. I’d never thought about the “pay driver” angle (perhaps more common in F1 than MotoGP, giving those guys more power in under-resourced or illiquid teams?), though you’re probably right that, in general, the power difference “within a series” is greater than perhaps “between series”.

The way I framed the argument was in terms of team orders, where I believe MotoGP riders (or generally motorbike riders) tend to have more power than F1 drivers. In F1, riders tend to submit to team orders. In motorbikes, riders will often choose not to. I think it’s a really interesting distinction, and wrote about it myself a few years ago at https://thoughtsonsport1.blogspot.com/2014/11/team-orders-4-wheels-vs-2-wheels.html.


Here’s some information which might be more relevant to readers which is being reported elsewhere today:

Alonso, 37, who is competing in his 17th F1 season, won the 2005 and 2006 championships when racing for Renault. “After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport it’s time for me to make a change and move on,” he said.


Does James actually write any of these articles any more? They are mostly credited to ‘editor’ whoever they are. And James rarely replies to any of the comments these days. Ive followed this site since day 1 (and the itv f1 site before that) and it was always in my top 3 favourite F1 sites but if you want a decent insight these days into all things F1 I find myself checking out joe saward and autosport.


Not many. Since the site has gotten bigger and been bought by the Motorsport lot, it’s gone downhill. As you say, James doesn’t write much of the articles now and there are rarely comment replies from him. I do think that the other journalists who write on this site do a good job and sometimes but I find they’re not too dissimilar to James’ style but with a lot of respect to them, I come here for James Allen’s insights and it feels like we’ve gotten less and less of them in the past few years.


Hmm, this series reminds me of the saying “If my grandmother had wheels, she would have been a bike”. I’m not sure if these comparisons are of any use.


Yes what is this moto gp propaganda? This could easily have been an article just about drivers in F1 and that would have been fine. Three articles (or is it more) about something completely displaced. Maybe it’s time to call it JAonmotogp.


You should change the name of this blog to Someone on something because it isn’t James Allen on F1 anymore.



What’s his definition of power? An MU ? A pilot ? A big bankroll ? Whatever.

Torchwood Mobile

After this reveal about MotoGP riders, I do not want to ever again read accusations of Lewis being a diva, or disrespectful to his team, or how he runs the team.

That aside, it is the Summer Break for Formula One, and anybody coming here because they are missing it, are not served in the slightest by articles about a completely different sport.

Even writing about an F1 feeder series, is more relevant to us, than writing about bikes.

If a rider or driver from some other formula or machinery, tries out one of our cars, fine, write about it, but anything else – that girl who won British F3 (congrats) notwithstanding – I could not give a flying [mod].

Even Sky will pick out pictures of F1 drivers from when they were 5; there is a lot of territory to cover before you need to run through who holds Marques’ bike when it pits.

How Ericsson has coped without a water bottle for two years, is more relevant than this [mod].


i’m bored already, when’s the next race?


Go get’em Aveli. Release the anger ☠

“F1 F1😡🤬 site! No more argh !!


You know it’s summer shutdown when MotoGP comparisons, quotes, views and “news” start dominating a F1 website.

This article adds nothing to the narrative and I have literally NEVER heard or seen a debate on whether F1 drivers or MotoGP riders have more power and say in their garages.

If I wanted MotoGP news and info I’d hang around a MotoGP site. (BTW, I’m a MotoGP fan and follower, just not why I come to JAonF1 for). Just like if I wanted tps on which camera and lens to use for motorsport shoots I’d go to a photography site.


This article could just have had the title “How much power do F1 drivers have in their teams?”

Sometimes it just looks unproportional the influence a driver has. But I think the teams and the owners of F1 and promoters alike took one thing from the Schumi era. His stardom attracted a lot of untraditional F1 fans to the show and gave F1 a wider audience, and subsequently larger.

Although the way Ferrari used this ruthless strategy of giving their chosen driver everything to win, at the expense of their other drivers resulted in a backlash pr wise. They still had enough support from fans only interested in a star and adorning the success of a celebrity star. Ferrari fans were happy of course, and the Scuderia gained many new fans. Or was it rather Shumi?

But I believe many F1 fans stopped wathing since there was no longer any competition and in top of this domination there was this ruthless strategy. It became a one man show, in contrast to the Hakkinen-Schumi years, and McLaren did not use that strategy, at least not to an extreme.

I believe this belief in what they took from those years can prove to be fatal today. We have new generations and we have people not too easily charmed by what the media whants to portray. Also I wonder if the real fans of F1 of the old times are so different from the new ones. The upset crowd booing in Austria for example. If there is a sport/show that really needs dedicated fans, then it really is F1. How many fanboys/fangirls that are only interested in a particular star will stay with the sport in the long term?

The path RBR is taking for example is a gamble and dangerous one. But more alarming is that the whole upper echelon of the F1 machinery seems to be backing this to every cost, not to mention inside journalists. Or that the superstar of today must have chamionchips equalling not only Senna or even Schumi but they need more than seven WDC’. Even though you can’t compare the achivements from the past to the ones today. One can argue that you cannot even compare team mates in a meaningfull way anymore. This takes away a lot from the achivements of drivers, no matter how good they might be, unfortionately.

Richard Mortimer

All very interesting… although I know nothing about MotoGP. Seems a totally different world to me. The riders seem crazy to me! Maybe people think there is a link because of karting. Karting now produces most top F1 drivers (and more besides), and the technology in karting is similar to bikes. Closer to bikes than cars…. But, that is it.

I would think that comparisons with karting would be more beneficial as well as interesting.

I remember John Pudney in the late 70s / early 80s. He spotted Senna before anyone else. He was reporting in Kart & Superkart magazine. On stage with Brazilian F1 driver Alex Ribeiro I showed him a copy of the world championships report from Estoril. He could not understand how Senna lost to Dutchman Peter Koene.

Note: DAP paid for the 2 best drivers in the world – Terry Fullerton and Ayrton Senna da Silva (as he was known then). But, Peter Koene won on DAP chassis with DAP engine as a privateer!

This is so much more interesting than MotoGP, for obvious reasons!

On the subject of drivers dictating: that was a criticism of Stirling Moss. After he finished a close second to Hawthorn in 1958 (and should have won) he never drove for a factory team again. The criticism was that he was a real prima dona, dictating which car he would run. First a Cooper then a BRM, etc.

The truth is, he was second in the WC from 1955-58 (when in works cars, apart from Maserati) then third from 1959-61!


what is this article doing on JAF1? two sentences about how FA and LH and the rest is MotoGP. I don’t get any insight on f1 at all in this article. If there is no f1 news then so be it, I always felt JAF1 was a factual f1 website and not a multisport blog written by budding “journalists” with no real insight. The only thing i come back for are articles written by James especially the race strategy reports.


Seems everything is being watered down nowadays in F1. Motorsport.com is cornering the market in news buying up all the news sites and putting it behind a pay wall for most part or making the free stuff the amazing quality that we get to enjoy now here.
Maybe the comparisons are because everyone says how MotoGP riders are real warriors so they are trying to give F1 drivers more credibility or diminish that of MotoGP riders with these comparisons?


@J…Moto GP riders are real live, flesh and blood, brave, courageous and possibly insane sportsmen in possibly the most dangerous sport in the world. F1 drivers by comparison, are cocooned in a safety cell of immense strength that subsequently delivers maximum survivability in the case of an accident, We have all witnessed those events and the drivers are able to walk away unaided from what would have been a sure fatality in just a few years past.


So we’re not given any insight on the sway that F1 drivers have over their teams, beyond a comment about one driver from a few years ago. The article feels very unfinished and the terminology of managing a rider’s box doesn’t translate overly well to an F1 fan. But better than it would for cricket fans I suppose.


Some drivers wield and extraordinary amount of power over a team. Alonso for example, was probably the biggest factor in changing McLaren’s engine supplier. It was very clear during 2017 that McLaren would either have Honda or Alonso in 2018, and not both!


Suggestions for future F1 articles:

1) Do footballers have nicer hair styles than F1 drivers?

2) Who make the best team managers , ex drivers or ex players?

3) Do motto GP bikes look cooler than F1 cars?

4) Is superbikes the new feeder series for F1?

5) why JA on F1 is becoming a click bait second rate site?


Can’t wait. Then we get to the real juicy stuff. Like

1. who does VR’s hair.?

2. 5 Ways to your best abs ever

3. Who party hardest, Lewis or rappers?

You know, in-depth F1 stuff


5) Take it easy. Everyone in F1 is on holiday and we are thirsty for something to read. I’m not that thrilled about motogp but not much else is happening. Would you prefer radio silence for 3 weeks?


#Guy…I’d prefer some stock pieces on the effectiveness of the new front wing or even a piece culled from beyond the grid’s interviews with Ross or Mr Spice. On the F1 fan site there is a guy blogging about Caterham so heck a piece about historic teams. Do you know a team got banned because their team principle got arrested in the pit lane? Some great articles await but no we get Motto GP vs F1 several times.


Some great ideas here, write one – I’d read it!


The quality on this site has gone downhill consederably since James sold it to Motorsport.



Had to check it wasn’t April fools’ day – another pointless article to join the last few (though thankfully this one wasn’t a thinly veiled advert).

I understand this free, however it used to be a daily must-visit for the quality content and genuine insights and analysis of the sport. Not any more it seems.


Jon, you can collect your refund at the door….


#TimW same as the French GP ..complain all you like about 7 hours in a queue, the mud , the ( more ) queues. the missed sessions. But despite the advise from the 5 star club you never get a refund. Easy to advise when you are not paying the bill.


Jon. I’m confused, you are comparing being unhappy with something that cost a large amount of money, with something that costs nothing at all? Not happy with a website? Click on another, takes less time than moaning about it!


Correct..Jon will post no more


Who cares?

As Jeremy Clarkson points out, motorcycling is a a hobby, not a serious form of transport. OK, maybe in poorer African and Asian countries a motorcycle is the only form of automotive transportation, but in the developed world it’s just an indulgence to decapitate yourself. And as Jezza found out when he fell of his Vespa in Vietnam, a very injury prone form of indulgence………

In the UK, bikers are known in the medical profession as “donors” – as in hearts, livers, lungs, kidneys………….


Especially when its raining GazBoy.

It’s called Donor Frenzy.

At least Joe Saward shuts down for 2weeks with a postcard on his site.

But on the bright side we will probably get F1 comparisons to various motorsports. Can’t wait for

1) Lawn Mower Racing verses F1 next🤣.

2) Flymo verses F1 hybrid.

3) Qualcast quick release Roller verses F1 tyre nut release?

4) F1 lot less bother than a Hover Mower?

5) Flymo or Edge Strimmer or F1 MGUK ?

6) Batteries and Dysons small power motor the future 200 word discussion 50k prize from Chevy Chase aka Fletch?


Media hype is something we will see more of in F1. This is where we are heading, in many cases we have already been there for some time.

Some drivers use media and politics to their own benefit better than others. Now we see teams making the hype togheter with drivers as well. But there are too much consensus too often between journalist, teams and the rest of the F1 machinery. This is not surprising since F1 is a small world where they all benefit from each other. It will be dificult for journalists inside the circus to remain objective. Everyone are invested in the same objectives (sometimes) for obvious reasons.

Ferrari and Merc are the teams potentially strong enough to not let a driver dictate too much, although this has probably not always been the case.

RBR to a lesser degree, although they have strong ownership and power. McLaren in decline get’s more inclined to give a star driver priority due to sponsorship and other aspects that comes with it.

Williams is going for the money their drivers brings. But pay drivers have always been a part of F1 though, and one can argue that some of the star drivers are in fact pay drivers as well.

Hype and promotion from different pr managements or groups are getting more aggressive and journalists easily gets entangled. MV is a case in point. Everyone from Liberty down to journalists.

KR on the other hand has been an anomaly in all of this, (although some other drivers as well but not to that exreme)not talking to media resulting in journalists reluctant to write about him. This makes it an interesting case since he’s been been in a top teams for almost 20 years, so they have to write something. This could explain how the media portrats him, not always in a too favourable way, although for most of his career his been a leading figure in a top team. This would not be too surprising though considering how the media ecosystem works.

It will be a more boring circus when the old school drivers are gone, and the different personalities as well. What we might be left with are the media trained streamlined script reading politicians. Or slick manipulative pr driven, (in worst case) pay drivers.

Lewis is also getting some unfaourable covering but due to other factors, but also the polarization in today’s meda landscape is not helping.


That’s an odd question when different athletes always have different levels of pull with different teams.


But right now, no driver in F1 has anything close to the level of pull that Valentino Rossi has within Yamaha. Marquez might have been getting close within Honda, but Honda pulled the rug from under him by hiring Lorenzo.


Within F1 Lewis Hamilton is probably the driver with the most influence within his team, but that is something he has gained in the absence of Rosberg. Then Max Verstappen (through his father) with Seb and Nando somewhere behind. Even so none of them have the power to get a senior engineer removed from the team (Mclaren will do that at random intervals anyway), whilst if Rossi said someone had to go, Yamaha would make them go. Moto racers tend to have a much closer relationship with a smaller team of engineers than F1 drivers, so it makes sense that they have a lot of influence regarding who is in their bubble. Working with the same 3-5 guys every weekend is markedly different to working with a team of 20.


MotoGP teams are split into 2. The Japanese factories, who make the bikes and send them to European based race teams & European teams who build and race from their factories. The European factories don’t put up with riders who have ego issues, they sack them. The might be wrong, as Ducati will discover over losing Lorenzo, but they make a decision and stick to it.

Despite being in motorcycle racing for decades, Yamaha allow riders to give them the run around, as they believe famous riders help sales. The Yamaha racing team is very small and Rossi has been allowed to rule the roost. They forget Rossi has no allegiance to them, as he showed when he ran off to Ducati who paid him a fortune. Yamaha got conned by Phil Read in the 60’s and never learned. More fool them.


Both F1 and MotoGp.

Rossi Marquez Lorenzo plus Hamilton Vettel MaxV Alonso. All have a say in terms of power generated by their talent and sponsors they bring to the teams.

Where is James gone ?🗣

Is he gone all Jedi and disappeared into The Force of the Universe?👤

“Luke Luke Use the F1 Force Luke!” 🤣

Ps what’s happening to JAF1 is it slowly turning into a mix motorsport website….OAh yes forgot it’s now a motorsport tv website.

Fair enough SpeedWay next ? SpeedWay verses Motocross.


Great idea. I do love a bit of speedway, and what about a comparison with grass track, long track, flat track and ice speedway? I mean, which is best and which one has the best riders?


scott d

Good idea plus how about Ice SpeedWay too which is mental with the spike tyres.


Watched an ice racer going around the dirt at Coventry speedway with spikes and setting a new (unofficial) track record. Crazy stuff.


Wow . Regarding the track record. Unofficially. So many speedway tracks are closing remember the Hay days of “Peter Collins” whizzing past at Leicester Speedway track, on a school visit from Cambridge.

Health and Safety won’t allow that these days. Plus Leicester Speedway is no more. Think Hinckley still has a track or did I imagine that?

Plus I think Peter Duncan of Blue Peter and Duncan Dares and Flash Gordon (the teenager who got stung by the tree bug and Timothy Dalton had to send him on his way with an arrow or sword swipe) fame had a children’s Speedway soap drama series in the early 80s.

Enough of the regression session…Speedway is still an awesome motor sport. Big in mainland Europe too.


JAF1 is sadly in decline. Rarely updated nowadays and boring subjects. The reason I started following this site was the analysis of James, to be told the facts behind the locked doors and the personal thoughts from a person who worked in this environment (that we all love so much) for so long. I used to scroll down all the comments and read when James had answered a comment. That was the joy.

So bring back James! And my suggestion is:

-updates everyday

-finish the article with JAF1 analysis

-James answering some of the comments


Perhaps he’s having a well deserved holiday!!!!!!


James flogged the blog BK.


Is that a fact? Didn’t see it reported anywhere…

Would certainly explain a thing or two!



James done a piece on it a while back redline! Amazed you haven’t read that.

James also promised that nothing would change. Unfortunately that hasn’t held true..


Cheers Captain Risky

I thought it was accessible via motorsport app didn’t realise he had done the nasty and sold out !! Sad Days ahead then with “cough” low brow content. 📯 Remember the Good Old days. The Halcyon times when the updates were rapid and there was good banter and bread was only 40p and the price of mustard and Bovril was…please sir can I have some more 🤲


@BK… James’s insights and commentary were what bought us all here, and he will be sorely missed if he’s no longer involved.

However a big attraction was also the interaction with the other readers, around the great content. The readership here seems to be a notch or two above that on other sites in terms of quality and civility of the posts. Whoever is running the blog now is also killing that interaction – as it takes so long to approve the comments, it makes it practically impossible to have a meaningful exchange.


Why are there red ‘ reply ‘ boxes on some posts and not on others? Difficult at the best of times to maintain some continuity of comments. This site is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate… James? Anyone at home?


100% agree Redline .

The analogy is like the final death flings of a harpooned whale.

When is the JAF1 whale warriors coming into rescue it from the Motorsport Whalers !

Too late me thinks ! R.I.P wreath moment😱.

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