MotoGP scoring system: history and evolution

8 minutes

Nine different scoring systems have been implemented since the first World Speed Championship in 1949. With the introduction of sprint races this season, we will now get to know the championship’s tenth scoring system.

MotoGP scoring system: history and evolution

What is the current MotoGP scoring system like?

The current scoring system is the longest-running in the World Championship’s history  , dating back to 1993. At each Grand Prix, points are distributed among the top fifteen riders in the race, and the rider with the most points at the end of the season is declared the World Champion. The twist this season is that in each Grand Prix the riders will not only compete in one race, on Sunday at 2:00 pm, but will also have another race on Saturday afternoon. These will be shorter sprint races, where they can also accumulate points for the final standings.

They will not all be worth the same amount of points. Sunday’s races, the ones that have been around forever, will follow the same scoring system that has been in place since 1993, whereas Saturday’s shorter races will have a different scoring system. And all of them, every single one, will be taken into account for the final championship standings.

How are the points allocated in MotoGP?

The winner of a MotoGP race will receive 25 points towards the overall Championship standings. After that, the points decrease incrementally: 20 points for second position, 16 for third, 13 for fourth, 11 for fifth, and so on down to one point for 15th position. The scoring system is the same for both Moto2 and Moto3 racing classes.

In the sprint races, which are shorter in duration, the points distribution will be different. This system is already used in the Superbike World Championship for production motorcycles. Only the first nine positions will receive points: The winner will receive 12 points, 9 for second position, 7 for third, 6 for fourth and so on down to one point for ninth position.

How many points per race can a MotoGP rider receive?

With two races per weekend, the amount of points a MotoGP rider can accumulate per race has increased. Now, if a rider wins both races over the weekend, the sprint race on Saturday and the “normal” race on Sunday, the rider can accumulate 37 points in a single weekend. This would be the maximum a rider can win per race. On the other hand, if a rider has a crash during one of the two races, thanks to this system they still have a chance to earn points that weekend.

It is somewhat difficult to imagine how the new sprint race format, which will double the number of races for the standings to 42, will influence the outcome of the MotoGP World Championship. It is worth noting the difference in points between the winner and the runner-up in these scoring systems. In long races, the difference between first and second position is 20% (25 points versus 20), while in short races, victory is rewarded more because the winner receives 25% more points than the runner-up (12 versus 9).

History of the MotoGP scoring systems

The championship’s scoring system was constantly evolving until 1993. As we mentioned before, the system has not changed since then and has been the most stable in the history of the competition. Had the current gross points system been adopted, that is, if all the results throughout the season had been taken into account, no fewer than 46 titles would have changed hands over the course of the World Championship’s history. We have already talked about the history of the classes throughout the MotoGP World Championship’s history, now we will explain the history of the scoring system.

Net points: the two worst results do not count

Initially, in 1949, a system was adopted that gave points to the top five finishers (10-8-7-6-5, respectively), and an extra point to the rider with the fastest lap, as long as they finished the race. While for the 125cc and Sidecar classes, all the results were counted because they only had a three-race calendar, in the other classes, a net points system was applied in which only the three best results counted, despite the fact that each of the other classes had a different number of races: four in 250cc, five in 350cc, and six in 500cc.

In 1950, the scoring system used during the European Championship (1938-1939) was brought back, awarding points to the top six finishers of each race (8-6-4-3-2-1, respectively) and eliminating the bonus point for the fastest lap. Unlike in the European Championship, a net points system was applied to the World Championship, except for the classes that had less than a three-race calendar, as was the case at the beginning with the 125cc and Sidecar classes, which still had only three races. This was because at that time, the organizers did not always have all the classes together in a Grand Prix, and this resulted in the different classes having an unequal number of races. From 1951 onwards, the 125cc and Sidecar classes’ calendar was expanded.

In order to apply the net points system fairly, a formula was used to determine the number of results to be counted. If the number of races was even, that number would be divided in half and one would be added. That is: 6/2+1=4. The four best results were taken for the final championship standings. If the championship had an odd number of races, then one was added to the number of races and divided in half. That is: (5+1)/2= 3. The three best results were taken.

The system remained in place until 1969. That year it was modified, allowing the top ten finishers to accumulate points towards the final standings: 15-12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. The net points formula remained in place until 1976, although that season had a new approach: it was divided into two parts, with six races each, and the three best results of each part counted towards the final standings.

That was the last season that used the net points system. This was a relief for many riders, because in those days breakdowns were quite frequent and could ruin some riders’ aspirations. Therefore, the possibility of excluding the worst results was always positively accepted by the riders. But not even a net points system could prevent other, more established and consistent riders from being crowned champions, even if they did not win as often. During that time, there were quite a few cases of champions winning with more net points even if they had accumulated fewer gross points than other riders.

Gross points: all results count

From 1977 onwards, all results (gross points) were counted for the final standings. The points distribution remained the same until 1988. That year, points were awarded to the top 15 finishers (20-17-15-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1), and with the increase in the number of races in the calendar in 1987 to fifteen races for the 250cc and 500cc classes, consistency took on greater importance. In 1991, the same scoring system was kept, but riders were allowed to exclude two results, a change made with the 500cc class in mind. This is because riders were often injured, so some of the favorites would end up being eliminated from the race for the title.

This system was not used again and was changed again in 1992. A different scoring system was established, which only awarded points to the top ten finishers (20-15-12-10-8-6-4-3-2-1), thus bringing back the gross points system and taking all results into account. This system was also short-lived.

In 1993, the current system was introduced. Points were again awarded to the top fifteen finishers, although with a different distribution than the one used between 1988 and 1991. This system awarded more points to the top three finishers, in order to give more weight to the fact that they were able to reach the podium in the race: 25-20-16-13-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, maintaining the gross points system.

The introduction of sprint races to the championship is the biggest change made to the scoring system in the last 30 years. We will watch closely to see how important the points from these races will be in the outcome of the championship.

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