It’s only natural for world-class motorcycle racers to also be interested in car racing – specifically, Formula 1. Valentino Rossi might be the most famous of the MotoGP world champions to try four wheels. He routinely participates (and wins) rally races after the MotoGP season is over, and he came pretty darn close to driving for Ferrari’s F1 team after a series of tests. To date, however, only the late, great John Surtees is the only person to ever win the 500cc world championship (1956, 1958, 1959, 1960) and the Formula 1 title (1964).
Could Marc Marquez be next? Probably not anytime soon, but after getting his first taste of driving a Formula 1 car, the Spanish MotoGP champion is definitely open to the possibility after he hangs up his leathers. Repsol Honda teammates Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, and multi-time MXGP champion Tony Cairoli recently got the chance to drive a 2012-spec RB8 F1 car at the Austrian energy drink company’s home track, the Red Bull Ring, for a bit of fun in between the hectic schedules of their day jobs.
Before getting to hop in the real car, all three stars spent significant time in the simulator to come to grips (pun intended) with the forces and sensations of driving in F1. To further help their progress, former F1 driver, WEC champion, and Red Bull athlete Mark Weber was on hand to give the trio a few pointers.
Official times were not released, but several outlets are reporting Marquez’s (unofficial) best lap was a 1:14.9, and he was on course to lap faster before spinning at the last corner. That time puts him just over six seconds slower than the 2014 pole time at the circuit, and 10 seconds slower than the pole time set last year. However, keep in mind Marquez was driving an eight year-old car meant for demonstration purposes, on hard Pirelli tires, with no DRS (Drag Reduction System), using a V8 engine with no KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System).
So what did Marquez think? “It was always my dream to race the quickest cars in the world. I had great respect for it ahead of today, and I didn’t sleep well. In the end it was an unbelievable experience, and an absolute highlight of my career. There is a massive difference to MotoGP. The limited visibility was a great challenge, in particular, to begin with. You feel a lot more constricted in the cockpit. The braking distances and timing in turns is completely different. A Formula 1 car has much more downforce, of course, which made for a lot of fun in the part of the circuit with the most turns, in particular.”
These were similar sentiments shared by both Pedrosa and Cairoli, with the latter also needing to understand the big differences in speed and grip compared to the much slower nature of motocross, where sliding and losing traction is a way of life.
Of Marquez’s performance, Weber was hugely impressed. “He (Marquez) was really quiet still at breakfast. As soon as he got into the cockpit, he was 100 per cent focused and delivered a top performance on the race track. Formula 1 and MotoGP are two completely different things. Marc made my job as an instructor very easy though. He always asked the right questions and improved lap by lap.”
Also on hand was Red Bull Motorsports’ boss Helmut Marko, who was also quick to complement Marquez’s performance. “To put that kind of performance in within such a short time says everything about his huge talent. In the coming years he is going to break a lot more records in MotoGP. Maybe after that, Formula 1 will actually be a possibility. Up to now only a few exceptional talents, such as John Surtees, have managed to compete in both racing series. Marc also has what it takes. Today definitely wasn’t the last time he will sit in a Formula 1 car.”
See Marquez’s driving abilities in the video below, and watch until the end to hear his thoughts on the experience. A full gallery of Marquez, Pedrosa, and Cairoli can be found below the video.
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