While it was very nice of MotoGP to put out droves of content for free, nothing quite compares to the thrills of live, high-speed motorbikes. After a long wait, MotoGP has returned with a new schedule, with a sleek stack of races across Europe and a few more earmarked to take place in North America, South America, and Asia, pending confirmation. As of 19 July, MotoGP is back, with the Circuito de Jerez hosting the first of a confirmed 13 races that’ll give the super-powered bikes a place to burn some rubber and compete for the championship. Alongside MotoGP, another high-velocity sport has made its return, Formula One, so we thought it prudent to check out the two racing tournaments side-by-side to see if two wheels are faster than four.
The insane speeds of MotoGP bikes
The Qatar tests from February 2020 laid down some incredible speeds. Top of the pile was Jack Miller on a Ducati, clocking in at 355.2 kph (220.7 mph). Close behind was Danilo Petrucci at 352.9 kph, Francesco Bagnaia at 351.7 kph, and Johann Zarco at 350.6 kph; all of whom were also riding a Ducati bike. It may be surprising that, despite his dominance, Marc Marquez doesn’t have the fastest bike in MotoGP, with his Honda reaching a top speed of 346.1 kph. The top speed of these Qatar tests wasn’t too far off of the record, with the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso hitting 356.5 kph (221.5 mph) at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley.
Away from the track, manufacturers are pushing the limits of what we thought was possible on two wheels with absurdly fast models. In the electric motorcycle space, Venturi’s BB2.5 prototype hit a staggering 495 kph (307.6 mph) in testing, while they say their BB3 model can hit unheralded heights of 700 kph (434.96 mph). As for what can be purchased on the market, the 2019 MTT 420RR is claimed to be the fastest motorcycle, with a top speed of 273.4 mph (440 kph). The speeds put up by the stars of MotoGP and commercial companies have set the bar very high for four-wheeled vehicles.
Four wheels competing at the highest level
Formula One is regarded as one of the most intense sports in the world, with the top speeds of F1 cars during races hitting absurd heights. In 2005, the bar was set at the Italian Grand Prix, with the McLaren-Mercedes driven by Juan Pablo Montoya getting to 372.6 kph (231.5 mph). It took 11 years, but during practice for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, one Valtteri Bottas crept over the bar by hitting a top speed of 378 kph (234.9 mph) in 2016. Much like in MotoGP, having the fastest car doesn’t necessarily lead to victory, with the Ferrari hitting the fastest speed of 336.7 kph (209.1 mph) in 2020, and yet they don’t lead the way.
He may be the clear back-up driver to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, but Bottas is still laying down some incredible speeds to take points, finishing the race headlining F1’s return, the Austrian Grand Prix, in first place. Bottas claimed the top spot, Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari came in second, and Lando Norris in the McLaren-Renault came in third after Hamilton was deducted points. Such a display from Bottas and his historic speeds have earned the Finn a lot of favour and, as of 6 July, he’s the second-favourite at 2/1 to win the Drivers’ Championship while topping the standings. Of course, not everyone can drive an F1 car, with the fastest four-wheeler on the market being the almighty Bugatti Chiron Sport, which hits 261 mph (420 kph) with the pedal down.
Two vs Four: split decision
When comparing motorbikes and cars at the highest levels of competition, the vehicles of MotoGP come up just a little bit short on those of Formula One. At 221.5 mph on a bike to 234.9 mph in an F1 car, Moto GP is slower, but both are incredible speeds to hit in the heat of competition and while utilising the skill required to navigate tracks and other drivers. As reaffirmed by Red Bull, F1 cars can go faster around a track than MotoGP motorbikes. On the commercial side, however, those seeking the fastest speeds should opt for a top-of-the-range motorbike, with the 2019 MTT 420RR’s top speed of 273.4 mph eclipsing that of the Bugatti Chiron Sport’s 261 mph.
So, in the world of motorsport, the conditions are in place to allow the four-wheeled Formula One cars to go faster than MotoGP’s two-wheelers. However, if you want to own the fastest bike or car, you’ll find the top speeds in a motorbike.