MotoGP: Dangerous sport or not: Comparison with Formula1 and Isle of Man TT

Is MotoGP a dangerous sports?
Is MotoGP a dangerous sport?

MotoGP or Motorcycle Grand Prix is the oldest motorsport world champion founded in 1949. Among the other famous motorcycle races like Superbike World Championship, Daytona 200 MotoGP is considered the most premier form of motorcycle racing champion sanctioned by the FIM. So, undoubtedly it is thrilling as well as dangerous for riders riding at high speeds competing among each other to stand out. Let’s see how dangerous is MotoGP?

So, Is MotoGP the most dangerous sport? Motogp is considered dangerous sport than F1 races. But, Looking at the statistics the MotoGP should be considered the safest sport compared to the Isle of Man TT. Isle of Man TT is the most dangerous sport and motorcycle race in the world. 

Considering any sport to be dangerous then there must be comparative sports or tournaments that we need to use to consider the level of danger. So, we will be comparing MotoGP with popular sports like F1 and Isle of Man TT.

Let’s look at some of the fatal death happened in MotoGP and other racing events. We will first start with the fatality rates of MotoGP.


According to Wikipedia, “In total, 104 riders have died from the incidents occurred at a Grand Prix motorcycle racing event since 1949”. The race in MotoGP contains 25 to 27 riders each positioned on their grid. The MotoGP race lasts approximately 45 minutes without stopping for fuels or tires.

Talking of crashes then there are crashes and falls the number varies from year to year. But the crashes don’t lead to deaths, mostly you will see riders walk away from a crash because of the level of safety improvements over the years.

As MotoGP is high-speed motorsport hence the has been researching & working to improve the safety of their riders 

Major dangers of Motogp race:-

  • Crash with other motorcycles
  • Lossing balance while riding especially on corners
  • Get hit by the other motorcycle

Riders died in MotoGP per year

There are many numbers of crashes that happen in MotoGP each year, some lead to little or no injury while some lead to even the death of riders. In spite of the safety gears and technological improvements over the year, still, the race is not injury or death-proof. As the fatality rate of Grand Prix is slightly higher than Formula 1 that makes the Motogp more dangerous sport than F1.

Here I have compiled the list of riders who died in MotoGP each year since its foundation in 1949:-

Year of AccidentNo. of riders died
19501 (David Whitworth)
19561 (Derek Ennett)
19591 (Adolfo Covi)
19631 (Marcelin Herranz)
19741 (Billie Nelson)
19821 (Jock Taylor)
19841 (Kevin Wrettom)
19881 (Alfered Heck)
19891 (Ivan Palazzese)
19931 (Nobuyuki Wakai)
19941 (Simon Prior)
20031 (Daijiro Tomizawa)
20101 (Shoya Tomizawa)
20111 (Marco Simoncelli)
20161 (Luis Salom)
20211 (Jason Dupasquier)
Riders died per year in MotoGP

FIA Formula 1 race

Formula F1 is considered the highest class of open-wheeled auto racing by FIA a motorsport governing body. The race F1 contains 20 drivers for the race competition. Generally the time it takes to finish the race is usually around 90 minutes. Crashes are common in F1 but because of the enhanced safety riders don’t die. According to Wikipedia, “Fifty-two drivers have died from the incidents occurred at an FIA World champian event since 1952”.

I have included a youtube video in which Romain Grosjeans was able to walk away from this tragic incident. It is again a reminder of the bravery and brilliance of the riders as well as the advances of safety.

Drivers died in Formula 1 per year since 1952:-

Year of accidentDrivers diedSession
1952Cameron EarlTest
1953Chet Miller Practice
Charles de TornacoPractice
1954Onofre MarimonPractice
1955Mario AlborghettiRace
Manny AyuloPractice
Bill VukovichRace
1957Eugenio CasetellottiTest
Keith AndrewsPractice
1958Pat O’ConnorRace
Peter CollinsRace
Stuart Lewis-EvansRace
1959Jerry UnserPractice
Bob CortnerPractice
1960Harry SchellPractice
Chris BristowRace
Alan StanceyRace
1961Shane SummersPractice
Giulio CabiancaTest
Wolfgang von TripsRace
1962Ricardo RodriguezPractice
Gary HockingPractice
1964Carnel Godin de BeaufortPractice
1966John TaylorRace
1967Lorezo BandiniRace
Bob AndersonTest
1968Jo SchlesserRace
1969Gerhand MitterPractice
1970Martin BrainRace
Piers CourageRace
Jochen RindtQualifying
1971Jo siffertRace
1973Rogger WilliamsonRace
Francois CevertQualifying
1974Peter RevsonTest 
Helmuth KoiniggRace
1975Mark DonohuePractice
1977Tom pryceRace
Brian McGuirePractice
1978Ronnie PetersonRace
1980Patrick DepaillerTest
1982Gilles VilleneuveQualifying
Riccardo PalettiRace
1986Elio de AngelisTest
1994Roland RatzenbergerQualifying
Ayrton SennaRace
2000John Dawson-DamerRace
2002Fritz GlatzRace
2014Denis WelchRace
2014Jules BianchiRace
2017David FerrerRace
The table containing data of F1 drivers died per year

As you can see from the list that there are very less driver died in the f1 races compared to the MotoGP. So, certainly, F1 is safer than MotoGP because already the driver’s body is covered by the body of the car. 

Apart from this, F1 cars are devised with several airbags and fire reduction systems to ensure the rider’s best protection.

Isle of Man TT

Isle of Man TT is known as the world’s greatest and dangerous motorsport. Every racer competes with their life exceeding over 200 mph speed on two-lane country roads where ambulance time is long too.                                                      

The TT race consists of the 37.73-mile circuit, which sums up a total distance longer than a trip from New York City to Boston which has to be reached all in an hour or 45 minutes.

The MotoGP has a race track built under 4 miles long and consisting of only 15-20 average turns it’s will be easy to memorize but the Isle of Man TT covers an almost 40-mile racecourse that has over 200 turns and the circuit’s elevation goes from sea level to 1,300 feet. Thus, memorizing these many turns are a tedious task for riders and it could take up to 3 years to memorize even for experienced riders. 

This is where riders possess a huge risk because the course track is not built for the purpose of racing. Instead, the roads on which the world’s most legendary races the Isle of Man TT takes place are maintained by the public work department so, the road surfaces are uneven and rough. So, the Isle of Man TT is the ultimate ground for riders to push their motorcycle and skill limit that is the reason it is so famous.

Also, the risk involved in racing is huge as one race said, “Nine times out of ten if you get it wrong around here, you are done.”

According to Wikipedia, “There have been over 260 deaths on the racecourse since 1907.”

Thar’s the reason Isle of Man TT is known as one of the dangerous motorsports in the world.

Is MotoGP more dangerous than Formula 1?

Compared to Formula 1 races MotoGP is far more dangerous than it. In F1 your body remains protected by the car body and with airbags and helmets equipped the deaths are rare nowadays.

But MotoGP riders are at another level of risk because of no protection of the outer body. Even riding a motorcycle is more dangerous and risky because the is no protection apart from the body gears etc. Also, you need a balance while riding a motorcycle especially in cornering because the lean angle riders go is above 60 degrees. 


According to Redbull, “The F1 cars with single-seater can reach 0-300kph in only 10.6s while for MotoGP it could take around 11.8s.”

So, F1 cars are faster than MotoGP therefore the lap times are also shorter for F1 cars than MotoGP motorcycles.

As, the vehicles move fast MotoGP riders need to balance more and make movements in the corners, etc which requires lots of energy and skill. While F1 drivers don’t need to do such things which makes it safer to drive. Also, the F1 cars are heavier and faster than MotoGP but because of the protective body driver don’t need to worry.


The MotoGP has two problems as the motorcycles are small in size, so having small tires can’t achieve traction as great as F1 cars.

Because of the bigger tires and sophisticated aerodynamics the Formula 1 cars can achieve better traction than MotoGP motorcycles. The F1 car also has downforce aerodynamics increasing its traction.

So, better traction with a fully protected body in F1 makes the race safer than the MotoGP.

The MotoGP is at greater risk while cornering because at that time the tire’s contact with the road will be less. So, even a single mistake can make the riders crash or fall.


Braking depends on many factors such as total weight, engine, tires size, speed etc.

Let’s look at the table below with the real data provided by Brembo:-

DataMotoGPFormula 1
Weight157 kg rider included702 kg driver included
Engine1000 ccTurbo 1600 cc
Rims17 inches13 inches
Width of Front tires125 mm245 mm
Length of rear tires190 mm325 mm

Here is important data about braking. “ MotoGP riders spend 23 percent of race braking while F1 drivers spend only 18 percent”.

The reason behind this is quite simple: MotoGP riders have the issue of losing balance and flipping over while braking thus they brake gradually. While F1 vehicles can immediately discharge the entire braking torque to the ground.

The F1 drives are at advantage because of the larger footprint of tires. So, the larger the contact of the tire with the surface the more opportunity to discharge the braking torque.

In terms of breaking the F1 are more safer and reliable than MotoGP.

Safety Gears

MotoGP racers wear many protective gears such as airbags, helmets, knee sliders, elbow pads, boots. These protective gears enhanced the safety of the riders and protect them while any falls or crashes. Although, it’s doesn’t ensure the full safety for the rider

F1 and MotoGP both use airbags, in fact, the airbags have become necessary in MotoGP since 2018.

The F1 riders are already protected by the body of the car but still, it’s not enough.

Helmets, HANS (head and neck support), and their protective clothing are the essential gear that F1 riders wear.

So, even though MotoGP wears the safety gears more but still they are less protective than the F1.

Talking of Safety, after the death of Ayrton Senna in F1 the safety measures have been exponentially raised.  

Hence, MotoGP is the dangerous sport than Formula 1 due to the various factors we compared above such as speed, braking, traction, safety measures.


Looking at the facts, There were 1,073 crashes in MotoGP in the year 2018 because of the fewer safety features but even though the fatality rate is only slightly higher than F1. So, MotoGP is a dangerous sport than formula F1 in every aspect. The MotoGP race among motorcycles contains a higher risk of losing balance and getting hit or losing balance during high speed. So, MotoGP is a dangerous sport than Formula 1. But, compared to the legendary sports or most dangerous race in the world, “The Isle of Man TT”, MotoGP should be considered the safest race. Protection Status