The differences between motor racing on two wheels and four go far deeper than just arithmetic. In Formula 1, for instance, races are routinely won and lost in the pits; on motorbikes, the archaic practice of overtaking is still regularly reported. It is behind the scenes, however – away from the cameras – that the real differences between the two sports really emerge.
At any particular race, a Formula 1 car represents the current state of the art, a snapshot in an ongoing multimillion-pound research and development project. Teams recognize the importance of the most advanced design, simulation and testing techniques – and spend, spend, spend accordingly. The teams that race high performance bikes are every bit as keen to succeed but here the emphasis tends to be more on fine tuning and trimming rather than turning out machines that evolve steadily (sometimes dramatically) throughout a season.
Part of this is down to motorcycle racing’s rules and regulations: in some races every entrant must ride an identical bike, so room for design innovation is distinctly limited. And money is certainly an issue. The fact that individuals still race on a reasonably competitive basis with their more highly funded rivals is a reflection of the fact that cash is spread somewhat thinner than in Formula 1 racing.