Subscriber Feature: Marc vs Maverick - The Making Of A Rivalry

Two men have emerged from the 2017 preseason as favorites. In many ways, Marc Márquez and Maverick Viñales are alike. Both are young, handsome Spaniards with an aura about them. Both grew up racing, and were immediately fast on every new bike they swung a leg over. Both have a keen intelligence, especially about racing, and what matters.

But above all, both Márquez and Viñales are driven by their ambition. They enter each championship with the fixed intention of winning. They have talent to spare, but more than that, they both have a deep understanding of what it takes to win a world championship, and are prepared to put in the work, to make the sacrifices needed to achieve their goal. They are single minded, obsessed with winning.

They are two very different characters. Márquez is cheerful, gregarious, outgoing. Whenever you see him, he is always laughing or smiling, joking with the people around him. He loves company, and spends almost every waking minute of each race weekend in the garage with his crew. When he joined the Repsol Honda team, he was allowed to take most of his Moto2 team, and crew chief Santi Hernandez worked under the tutelage of Cristian Gabarrini. At the end of his first year, Márquez demanded that HRC brought the last two members of his former Moto2 team into the Repsol Honda garage, and Gabarrini was moved on to other duties, despite being regarded as perhaps the best crew chief in the business.

Viñales is more reserved, quieter. Though he can be just as friendly as Márquez, he is more withdrawn, relying more on his own judgment. He has a cold, calculating intelligence, unafraid to make hard decisions, no matter the personal cost. Even at the age of seventeen, when he walked away from the Blusens Avintia Moto3 team over charges of general incompetence, he was able to turn around immediately and fly back to Australia for the next race after a meeting with his lawyers. It took humility and cool reasoning to do that. Not qualities seventeen-year-olds are particularly renowned for.

There can be only one

Now Márquez and Viñales face each other, but only one of them can win. They both sense that they are each other's main rival, the main obstacle to winning. And they have both spent the winter preparing for this battle, doing what it takes to give themselves the edge, poring over every detail. Looking for hundredths of a second here and there, knowing that hundredths mount up to tenths, and then whole seconds over the course of a race.

Marc and Maverick have been preparing in very different ways. That is self evident; they both have very different tasks ahead of them. Márquez is the reigning champion, having won three of the four MotoGP championships he has competed in. His focus is on avoiding a repeat of 2015, when the bike wasn't up to competing. Viñales is the newcomer, switching from the Suzuki, a bike that was nearly there, to the Yamaha M1 which is a proven winner. He has been focused on himself, on learning to use the extra advantages now at his disposal.

This is part of a semi-regular series of insights into the world of motorcycle racing, exclusive for site supporters. The series includes background information, in-depth analysis, and opinion pieces. Though the vast majority of content on is to remain free to read, most notably the daily round ups at each MotoGP event, a select amount of content will be made available solely to those who have taken out a subscription.

The aim is to increase the number of site supporters and be able to move away from online advertising altogether, a model which is broken, as the rise of ad blockers demonstrates. Adding exclusive subscriber content adds value for site supporters, in addition to the desktop-sized versions of Scott Jones' photos for the site. The hope is that this will persuade more of our regular readers to support financially, and help us grow and improve the site. 

If you would like to become a site supporter, you can take out a subscription here. If you are already a subscriber, you can read the full article on the rivalry between Marquez and Viñales here.


Back to top


Oh, come on. I completely support some liberal broadstrokes in order to contrast different characters, but making MV's walkout and return to Blusens into a humble acceptance of fate and cool reasoning is a bit of a stretch. You yourself, in a lengthy piece on the matter, called it the "impetuosity and unreasonableness of a seventeen-year-old" which might finally call attention to how riders are treated in this championship by shady managment (unfortunately it didn't do quite as much on that front yet as we all hoped). MV might have matured over the years, but retconning "calculated intelligence" and "humility" into him walking away from his team in a huff and then returning the next race after a lawyer made it clear to him that he would throw away his career and a lot of money if he didn't, is a bit much. He might have been a lot of things as a teenage racer, but I think even his family would agree that humble certainly wasn't one of them.

Two things.

1. I was wrong about Viñales then. I didn't recognize it for what it was.

2. I refer you to the behavior of Romano Fenati. He could have learned from his behavior early last year, after the warnings he was given. He did not, and lost his job. For a long time, Fenati did not acknowledge he did anything wrong. I'm still not sure he thinks he did anything wrong. Viñales did recognize what was best, after a good talking to by his lawyer, and sorted out his situation. He made an impetuous decision to leave Sepang, but quickly realized what needed to be done, and had the humility to do it.

I think my view of humility in this context is different. I don't think him coming back to the team was an acknowledgement of wrongdoing (he thought he had no other option at the time & in retrospect probably feels vindicated) or acceptance of the team's importance over his own; the official press release was clearly crafted by his lawyer. But he still wanted to have a future in the sport and firmly believed he would crush the opposition with a team that was not "second division". It was a necessary evil for him to do in order to stick with the long-term vision. I don't think that just doing what's best for yourself is humility, but maybe I am too cynical in this matter.

I don't think Fenati is a good comparison. He would have had to profoundly change his ways with the people around him to avoid being thrown out after several warnings and a personality change is a tough thing to do, even if it threatens your career. Vinales didn't do anything wrong before he stormed out and afterwards didn't actually have to change any of his views of himself or even appreciate the team more. For all we know he still thought he was the best and still thought the team wasn't, which is supposedly what this was all about. All he had to learn from the whole thing was to get better legal advice before signing a contract and be careful when choosing a manager. Which in this world is good learning though.