It was another unceremonious clash between Marquez and Rossi in Argentina, albeit this time it was wild-old Marquez who brought the Doctor down.
That Marc Marquez is widely regarded as the reincarnation (on two wheels) of the legendary F1 driver, Ayrton Senna, is something you often get to hear from MotoGP fans as well as experts of the sport. And that’s kind of understood because like Senna, Marquez too possesses God-like racing skills and a devil-may-care attitude. The ruthlessness with which he wrestles his machine around the circuit is absolutely spellbinding.
There’s no questioning Marquez’s skills for sure, but then, just like Senna, his aggressive style and disregard for the safety of fellow racers have always been a topic of hot discussion. His recklessness was particularly evident in lower classes, especially in Moto2, and during his first year in the premier class. In the past few years though, it seemed like all that was a thing of past and that Marquez has matured, for there were less controversies and more world titles for him. However, after the recent race in Argentina, opinions about this ‘matured’ Marquez have changed.
Before getting on to what went wrong for Marquez, it’ll be worth remembering that this year’s Argentine Grand Prix was one of the most bizarre races of all time. From the very beginning, there was absolute ruckus everywhere. The start grid was one for the history books, while the race in itself was full of entertainment. However, everything became insignificant in the light of the reigning world champion single-handedly grabbing all headlines and for wrong reasons.
Marquez’s woes started soon after the warm-up lap when he stalled and then jump-started his bike seconds before the start of the race. In doing so, he conveniently ignored the rules and continued the race from the grid, instead of the pit-lane. It was a great start nonetheless. Soon, he was leading the race. However, his misdemeanour earned him a ride-through penalty, and he slipped down to 19th position. After this, Marquez rode like a possessed man – he was lapping 2 seconds faster than any other rider! As breathtaking as it was, Marquez’s overtaking others can be best described as clumsy. In his attempt to slice through the backmarkers, he first bumped into Aleix Espargaro in an utterly unnecessary and dangerous manner, for which he deservedly earned another penalty and was asked to drop back by a position.
Despite that Marquez continued his blitzkrieg and soon found himself right on the tail of Valentino Rossi. Marquez was quicker and there was no need to rush. Yet he did everything that he wasn’t supposed to. The Spaniard made an overzealous move, misjudged Rossi’s pace and forced the Italian to crash. Even though Marquez finished fifth, the incident with Rossi earned him a 30-second penalty, meaning he scored no points. Was Marquez at fault? Very much. He was the fastest man on the track by a country mile, but he yet again showed that he lacks patience and is willing to take unnecessary risks. Plus, he doesn’t seem to care if he jeopardizes others. Not only that, Marquez also played around the rulebook by not moving to the pit-lane when he jump started the motorcycle. He might say that he was confused with the quick turn of events at the start, but it’s kind of uncanny to hear that a six-time world champion isn’t aware of basic rules. You can’t deny that his desperation to win got the better of him in Argentina.
The moment was opportune for Rossi to take the higher moral ground – or so we were expecting – but he came off even worse. Moments after the race, Rossi addressed the media, claiming that Marquez has ‘destroyed our sport (MotoGP)’ and that he intentionally crashes into other riders. The number 46 also claimed that he feels scared with Marquez around. Now it’s understood that Rossi was absolutely livid at Marquez’s recklessness, but to say that he does that on purpose sounds a bit far-fetched. Rossi should’ve also kept in mind that Marquez comes from the same school of thought as his. In Rossi’s heydays, he was also known for pulling similar antics – punting other riders, that is. Maybe, Rossi could have shown a little restraint, but instead he went all out and appeared to have been milking the whole situation so as to turn the tide on Marquez. His conduct brought back flashes of Sepang 2015, where, if you recall, the outcome was even worse.
All said, Rossi and Marquez share some history and after the incident in Argentina, there’s no love lost between the two. Both sides will have their opinion on the matter, but it’s hard to land on a fair conclusion. Hopefully, the war of words will be settled on the track in a graceful and more professional manner in the coming races. But then, this is MotoGP, there are big egos involved, so don’t be surprised if you get to witness more drama on and off the track.