MotoGP’s scariest corners — the riders' verdict


With Red Bull Ring’s controversial Turn 2-3 section soon to be no more, which corners will scare MotoGP riders the most? We asked Marc Márquez, Valentino Rossi, Fabio Quartararo, Jack Miller, Aleix Espargaró and Danilo Petrucci

Franco Morbidelli crash at red Bull Ring in 2020

Red Bull Ring 2020: Morbidelli’s bike came frighteningly close to collecting Rossi and Viñales

Getty Images/Steve Wobser

MotoGP circuit safety has improved immeasurably in recent decades. Although riders crash more often than they used to – due to much closer competition and, ironically, safer tracks and better riding gear – the vast majority of injuries are minor, while deaths caused by inadequate circuit safety are very rare.

During the last 35 years only two grand prix riders – Daijiro Kato and Luis Salom – have died due to circuit-safety issues, because MotoGP no longer visits dangerous racetracks.

Which is why Red Bull Ring has caused so much controversy over the last two years – four races at the circuit and three red flags, including last year’s terrifying Johann Zarco/Franco Morbidelli incident that came within centimetres of hurting Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales very badly.

This year’s fiery pile-up – involving Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo Savadori – signalled the end of the current Turn 2/3 layout: a 190mph left followed by a 40mph right. Next year a medium-speed right/left chicane will precede the section, removing the current Turn 2.

I have mixed feelings about this, because there were few sights in MotoGP more awe-inspiring than watching riders challenged to the maximum by this sequence, which had them hurtling through the left at close to top speed, slamming on the brakes, rear end fishtailing as they scrubbed off speed into the dead-stop right. But I also understand the dangers.

“Chicanes? Does anyone like chicanes?”

Ducati’s Jack Miller was always the best to watch there – using his two-wheel version of the so-called Scandinavian flick, a manoeuvre used by Scandinavian rally-car drivers to scrub off speed and steer the car more effectively.

Miller usually had his Desmosedici sideways between the two corners, rear end jacked out to the right, then used the momentum of the bike coming back into line to flick into Turn 3. And he loved it. Most of the time.

“When I’m on my own I love it – I have a ball,” said the Aussie, speaking during August’s Austrian GP at the track. “But as soon as you’ve got other bikes around – with the wings and all that – it’s a bit more dodgy.”

Miller isn’t delighted by the addition of a chicane but realises it’s necessary.

“Chicanes? Does anyone like chicanes?,” he added. “But at least we’ll be able to attack into Turn 3. You can’t at the moment because as soon as you get out of line you start getting a tank-slapper, which can almost cause what happened last year. So we are willing to take anything we can get to make it safer.”

Once the Red Bull Ring layout is changed, which MotoGP corners will concern riders the most?

I asked riders this question during the last few races but before COTA. The questions were posed during daily debriefs, so inevitably the answers are the corners that pop most readily into the riders’ minds.

Red Bull Ring revisions map

The new Red Bull Ring layout, with a medium-speed chicane replacing Turn 2. Work begins next month

Red Bull Ring


Jack Miller

Miller’s first thoughts of dangerous corners turned to COTA’s back straight. (Remember, we had this chat before the recent 2021 Americas GP.)

“Maybe a tiny bit the back straight at COTA, depending how the bumps are now, because last time we were there a lot of us had nasty tank-slappers, at close to top speed,” he said.

The reason for this? Two years ago Miller came close to disaster on COTA’s back straight, which was resurfaced for this year’s race.

“At the end of the day we’re racing motorcycles, which is a dangerous sport.”

I almost killed myself down the back straight,” said Miller during his 2019 visit to the Texas venue. “I thought it was game over. The bike started tank-slapping on me and I literally had no idea what was going on – my feel came off the ’pegs and when I got to the end of the straight the brakes were gone. I had to pull the lever six times. And that’s the last thing you want at close to 350kmh (217mph).”

COTA resurfaced the back straight following the 2019 MotoGP race, but that didn’t stop the track coming in for huge criticism a few weeks ago for its other bumpy sections.

The other section of track that came into Miller’s mind was Turn 4 at Catalunya.

“That’s quite dodgy because the wall is quite close if something goes wrong,” he said. “Dorna are trying to make all the tracks safer, which I appreciate, but at the end of the day we’re racing motorcycles, which is a dangerous sport. No matter what you do you’re still putting yourself in danger but we try to limit the risks as much as possible.”

Valentino Rossi kneels after Assen 2021 crash

Rossi after his crash at Assen’s Turn 7, did this fall help make up his mind?

Dorna Sports, S.L.


Valentino Rossi

Rossi was the man who came closest to getting seriously injured or worse in the 2020 Zarco/Morbidelli incident at Red Bull Ring and he thinks the track is generally dangerous.

“This track is dangerous because you have four braking points coming from close to 320kmh [200mph] into quite tight corners, this is the problem,” said Rossi during the Austrian GP.

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Anywhere else?

“Turns 6 and 7 at Assen and the very fast left [Turn 15, Ramshoek]. They are all quite dangerous because you are very fast in these corners.”

It is perhaps significant that Rossi chooses Assen’s Turn 7 left-hander, because he had a nasty fall there during this year’s Dutch TT. His immediate reaction – sat slumped in the gravel – seemed to say a lot. Was this the moment when he finally decided: ‘I’ve had enough of this’? After all, that’s what Jorge Lorenzo decided after he crashed there in 2019, breaking a vertebra.


Marc Márquez

Márquez knows a lot about circuit safety, because he has tested it on many occasions.

Once again I asked the question while we were at Red Bull Ring in August.

“Here there are Turns 2 and 3, and also Turn 1, which is safe, but many times we see that when riders crash on the exit they stay in the middle of the track, so we need to understand this and improve the safety,” he said.

“I cannot think of all the circuits now, but, for example, every time we go to Jerez the walls are too close and we hit the airfence when we crash: at the corner where I crashed last year [Turn 3]  and also Turn 7 [the fast left after the hairpin at the end of the back straight] and Turn 10 [the medium-speed right before the high-speed double right that precedes the final corner].”

I asked Márquez what he thinks about the exit of Portimao’s Turn 8. This is the right-hander followed by a steep and totally blind brow, where Moto2 rider Aron Canet crashed at last year’s Portuguese GP. Canet lost it before cresting the brow, sliding down the hill, completely unsighted by riders behind him. He was on the ground, bikes racing past on either side at over 100mph. Very scary.

“Yes, that’s dangerous, but it’s inside the red point, inside the limit,” added Márquez. “Of course a flat circuit is safer, but Portimao is nicer to ride! In the end the most important thing is runoff areas.”

Silverstone MotoGP crash

Márquez after his Turn 2 crash at Silverstone, which had rider and bike come to rest on the track at Turn 3

Dorna Sports, S.L.


Fabio Quartararo

This year MotoGP went to Silverstone after two races at Red Bull Ring. On Friday Márquez had a huge crash entering Silverstone’s high-speed Turn 2, which had the six-time MotoGP king and his bike end back up on the track at Turn 3.

Cal Crutchlow had the same crash some years ago and most significantly Loris Baz and Pol Espargaró fell there on the first lap of the 2016 MotoGP race. Both bikes and riders came back onto the track, missing others by a metre or two.

No wonder this corner sequence was on Quartararo’s mind when I spoke to him during British GP practice.

“Where Marc crashed today is really fast,” he said. “It’s bad when you crash there alone, but when you’re in a group it’s really dangerous.

“I need to think more deeply about other corners. but I don’t think there are many tracks where we need to do something.”

Quartararo’s final words are the words of a youngster – ask him the same question in five or ten years and he will most likely have more to say about circuit safety!


Danilo Petrucci

Petrucci came very close to being involved in the fiery Dani Pedrosa/Lorenzo Savadori crash during August’s Styrian GP, when Pedrosa crashed exiting the Turn 3 hairpin and Savadori hit his bike. His description of the incident is worth listening to.

“Turns 2 and 3 here are the most dangerous in MotoGP,” he said during practice for the following weekend’s Austrian GP. “You arrive in sixth gear and you’re braking while leaning, then the corner is really tight and when you are in the middle of the corner you can’t see the exit because it’s uphill.

“I saw him hit the back of his head really, really hard, and then the bike exploded in flames.”

“I was next to Savadori when he hit Pedrosa’s bike. I was trying to pass him on the inside and when we opened the throttle we found Pedrosa’s bike in our way. I saw Lorenzo hit the bike and I also saw him hit the back of his head really, really hard, and then the bike exploded in flames.”

Another corner that concerns Petrucci is Turn 1 at Phillip Island.

“That’s quite a scary corner – when you go into Turn 1 it’s always difficult because you go in there at 330kmh [205mph] and it’s always cold and always windy.

“Of course it’s our job to do this but reducing the risk at places like Turn 3 at Red Bull Ring is good because there are many risky corners in MotoGP, but not like that. No one likes that kind of corner, whereas most riders love Phillip Island.”

Dovizioso and Vinales crash at Catalunya 2019

Catalunya 2019: Dovizioso and Viñales get skittled by Lorenzo



Aleix Espargaró

When Valentino Rossi retires Aleix Espargaró will be the second most experienced rider in MotoGP after Andrea Dovizioso. And the Aprilia rider is never afraid to speak his mind, especially on safety.

Thankfully his least favourite corner after Red Bull Ring’s Turns 2 and 3 has already been fixed. Catalunya’s Turn 10 was widened for 2021 several years after it had been tightened into a very slow hairpin. Slow corners are supposed to be safer, but they’re not if they’re very slow and have riders braking into them from very high speed, because the likelihood of multiple rider crashes increases.

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“I always compare Turn 3 here at Red Bull Ring to the modifications they made a few years ago to Turn 10, at the end of the back straight at Catalunya,” said Espargaró, talking during the Styrian GP. “They turned the corner into a small 180-degree corner and it was a disaster. Every year we had problems – Bradley Smith almost destroyed my knee there, Jorge Lorenzo threw several riders in one go there.

“This is the kind of thing that happens at this type of corner. Of course we have to adapt and we have to race everywhere, but they are dangerous for us, because we don’t have four tyres to stop like cars do. Stopping a bike from high speed to very low speed isn’t easy because in the first few laps we have more weight with full tanks, when the track is really hot we don’t have perfect grip for braking and so on.

“The proof for Red Bull Ring is all the red flags. How many red flags have we had at other circuits in the last ten years since I came to MotoGP, maybe three or four? And how many at Red Bull Ring – three in three races, so it’s clear.

“At other tracks I would say Turn 4 at Phillip Island [the hairpin right after the super-fast Turn 3 left], because you are braking with some lean angle and going from left to right. That’s quite critical and we’ve seen many incidents there.”