Crunching The Numbers On The 2018 Championship: Is It The Honda, Or Is It Marc Márquez?

Marc Márquez has won 5 of the first 11 races of the 2018 MotoGP season, and leads the championship by 59 points. Honda lead the constructors' championship by 28 points from Ducati. And the Repsol Honda team leads the team standings by 8 points over the factory Ducati Team. So the 2018 Honda RC213V must be quite the weapon, right?

That is the case often argued by some fans. If Márquez has such a huge lead, then a large part of it must be down to the bike. There is only so far that talent can go.

Is it the bike, or is it Marc Márquez? This is a complicated question, a little tricky to untangle, but we at least have an approach which might give us a better idea of just how much of a factor the bike is, and how much of Márquez' success is down to his own doing.

The approach taken is simple: remove Marc Márquez from the results of the 11 races held so far, and see how that affects the standings, with everyone finishing behind Márquez moving up a place as if he had never been competing. If there is still a Honda at or near the top of the championship, then clearly, the bike must take a large part of the credit. If the Honda is further down the order, then it is Márquez who is outperforming the machine.

No Honda no cry

Taking just Marc Márquez out of the equation, the conclusion is fairly devastating. If Márquez had not been racing this year, then Valentino Rossi would be leading the 2018 MotoGP championship by a healthy 31 points. Behind Rossi, three riders are separated by just 8 points. Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo make it a Ducati 1-2, and Maverick Viñales sits in fourth spot on the second Movistar Yamaha.

Danilo Petrucci occupies fifth spot, the Alma Pramac rider making it three Ducatis in the top five, while Cal Crutchlow is the first Honda rider in sixth place, tied for points with Johann Zarco on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha. So far, the picture is not very good for the Honda.

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Does Rossi's virtual point tally take into account the cancellation of his argentinian crash (and the fact that all the guys that were behind him at that point would have been place one step lower), since it most probably wouldn't have happened in the Marquez-is-not-here case?

Thank you David for this informative mathematical exposé... 

To be honest, we don't need to crunch any number to agree that MM is an outstanding supremely talented champion. 

But as far as proof that he makes a difference it's a different matter. He makes a difference compared to whom? We don't know what Pedrosa could achieve if he still had his heart in it. And the only non factory bike that won besides Honda and Ducati factory is .... Cal's Honda! Moreover I have not seen one race so far where the Honda was really truly outpowered by the Ducati. The Honda - as we have seen in every test and race so far- is consistent, fast, and with little flaws if none. Take the last race: where was Cal? Not far if I recall well. In a circuit supposedly perfect for Ducati the 2 Honda were there with the Ducati. Yes MM makes a difference because all great champions do. But if the bike is not almost perfect nobody can win a championship (barring exceptional circumstances). And we need little numbers to prove it: think of Stoner in the past or even MM in 2015....

Bottom line : Marquez is riding a Honda which is almost perfect and tailor made for him since 2014. Given his exceptional talent combined to a bike that is definitely better than all the other marques- at the very top with Ducati - I don't see him as making a difference. Rather I see him doing what he is supposed to be doing. 

The only way to truly assess how much of a difference he makes is when he will have a talenteted and hungry teammate in good harmony with the bike, then we will truly see the difference. I don't think it will be 2019, as I am not sure wether Lorenzo can quickly adapt yet again to a new bike. 

I agree Marc is riding a bike sort of that he can get the most out of. I think Crutchlow is not that far off though he does struggle. Pedrosa is having a terrible year. I think however if Marc moves to the Ducati he will be devastating right out of the box!

we just have to look at all results since 2016 - when spec ECU and Michelin tyres came in. No matter how much the RC213V improves (and its in fair shape now) Marquez has been carrying HRC on his back and without him they'd be in a title drought which would make Yamaha's current scenario a walk in the park.

Perhaps Lorenzo is part of HRC's plan to remedy this. With him on board they might finaly be able to develop a bike less perplexing and more competitive for all, like the RC211V was.


Someone should show these numbers to the people at Yamaha - riders included. "Guys, cheer up, the M1 is fine. It's not your fault, it's Marquez's".

He's a few months away from retirement. For the sake of his own body and to at least be healthy when the season ends, I doubt he's riding in full anger and commitment. Self preservation is becoming stronger and stronger.

I think the stats would look different and more flattering to the RC213V if Pedrosa were riding at his best and without retirement in mind.

should take account of definitely not having a bike or tyres that suit him. I suspect that was more of a factor in his decision to give up. No other factory could offer what he needed either. 

If he got on a Moto 3 I suspect he would be as fast as ever.

I think the Honda development is completely wrapped up around Marquez and his riding style.  He has an obvious riding style completely different to most.  I think it is him, and the Honda.  Honda have improved the bike, especially the engine, so when Ducati is outclassing it, Marq is right there to podium.  It's every bit Marquez's skill AND the bike both.  

The exceptional prowess of Marc Marquez seems as plainly on display as any rider ever. The Honda was veritably horrible and trying to throw riders off of it in 2015 and 2016, it was too Marquez biased even for Marquez. It was made for him like a finely tailored casket. Marc is still developing as a whole package. The Honda has improved a ton in the last 2 yrs, and likely isn't done. Much has been in flux for MotoGP obviously, and now still is re tires and conditions in particular. I don't need the above analysis much re Marc and the Honda.

What DO I think this sort of consideration points out indirectly? Rossi. He is the one making good on a bike that is under performing. He and his crew really. Yes, Dovi handed points over at a handful of events. No, Jorge wasn't there yet until approaching mid season. But Rossi is really impressing me lately. This has almost nothing to do with Marquez, thankfully given that 2 to 3 yrs ago the public discourse was bent on intertwining the two. Please don't now, it is unbecoming and discolors the wonder that is each of these greats. There is room to hold both.

Yamaha has engine and electronics well tossed. New structural improvements of improved testing/development and three Factory bikes will display benefit. Vinales improves. Morale too. Morbidelli will quickly gain a few strides forward on the grid. Rossi will go out with a bang, not a fizzle.

Lorenzo will adapt very very quickly to the Honda and will be a factor in next year's championship. He will not ever eclipse Marquez over the course of a season, but will win some races. It will be very entertaining.

Dovisioso improves and so does the Ducati. Fewer bogey tracks. Petrucci remains about where he has gotten himself, but will clearly enjoy Factory life, even though second to Dovi. Jack Miller gets back to form and is a threat to win a wet race. Bagnia gets on fine w the Duc and big GP life but not really making the splash that the Factory yearns for, but makes a very strong rookie year. And that Lorenzo does make that splash at Honda. Bagnia will be seen as a significant player near the end of the 2019 season relative to any recent rookies. I have no bloody idea what Rabat is up to, he is sneaking under the radar and could surprise.

The Suzuki garage enjoys both Rins and Mir, and a bike that continues to impress. There isn't any huge leap forward. Rins and his team remain a touch inconsistent, the best still won't quite be gotten out of the bike. At a few rounds Rins excels and finishes forward of his 2018 bests, and outperforms Mir.

KTM makes clear forward strides relative to Aprilia in particular. And relative to 2018, a crappy Orange vintage. How far forward do they get? A lot, but it will only point out how trudgingly hard the going is through the mid pack and into the triumphant front. Just ask Ducati eh? Oliveira and Zarco both shine, Zarco settling in more quickly. P.Espargaro starting the season very motivated. Zarco AND Oliveira both surpassing him later in the season when things are going well. Relative to 2018, it will look pretty good for KTM. Easy to do though Right?

Aprilia swaps spots with KTM for a dour season. Both riders have some strong weekends but most are fraught with complications and disappointments. Both riders make the bike look pretty good when the stars align. Neither gets much credit. Iannone has a tougher time w this than A.Espargaro. AI29 motivation takes a dive mid season. Squabbles in the garage have Italian volume and articulation for a short time.

2019 has tires better fitting conditions, but conditions keep challenging. The Silly Season for 2020 starts so early that it is an intrusion on the goings-ons of the circus show.

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I wouldn't bet against any of that.

Can you get the lottery numbers out of that crystal ball?

Not so sure that the michelin will get much better... i read that the new tire for 2019 brought at the Misano private test yeaterday was dismissed by the riders. This has already happened twice in the past two months....

Add to the above the new less sophisticated electronics (supposedely impossible to bypass) and we might have a very unfortunate  season...

Hope not though. 

And yes im really curious to see Pecco in action. I really like that kid. (I'm slightly biased, we come from the same region.... ) regardless he is doing a great season!

Any time people talk about Moto GP tyres and 'better' it fills me with dread. The better the tyres get the more performance swings towards the data guys and away from the riders, which means the more the results tilt towards the factory teams and the more we get processions.


With any luck Michelin will give the field tyres that are good, but not great, let the riders slide around a bit, or a lot.

If Ducati maintain this form for the next 2 seasons (best bike, but never enough to pull it all together), MM93 will sign an unprecedented contract size for the 2020 season to race for Ducati and win their 1st WC since 2007.

If he gets his 7th WC this year, next year: #8 with HRC (Ducati will not stand a chance to the spanish duo next year) + back to back WC on the Ducati 2020 + 2021, and MM93 will break the VR record.

Then again riders only think about the next corner, the next race, this championship....but they do have managers..




Off topic but I had a thought, there has been a change of schedule for the British GP. The MotoGp race is run before Moto2 at Silverstone so if Dunlop rubber is a problem for the MotoGp bikes & it seems like it is a problem, then come Sunday things should be different, We'll see.

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Same time as normal, 1400CET.

Everything but the top class is at a different time relatively.

Wonder how a Portugese round would be timed? Ahem.