• Calum Dunbar

F1 Drivers and Motorcycles

Updated: May 13, 2021

Although they shine on 4 wheels, you may be surprised to learn that numerous F1 drivers also have a passion for 2 wheels. Afterall, many drivers race simply because they love speed and/or competition. John Surtees, 1964 Formula One world champion, started his racing career out on motorcycles. His father Jack Surtees was a motorcycle dealer in London, so it is no surprise that John found his way to motorcycle racing. Although technically John started out on 3 wheels as his first professional outing was a sidecar race which he won. Unfortunately, he was disqualified once the race officials discovered he was only 14 years old.

John Surtees hanging off the edge of his sidecar with his father Jack driving (unknown)

Michael Schumacher may best be known for his 7 F1 world championships and the years of Ferrari dominance he brought to F1, but you may not know that following his brief retirement from the sport, he found a new hobby on 2 wheels. In 2007 he tested a Ducati MotoGP race bike at the Valencia circuit, only lapping 5 seconds slower than Dani Pedrosa, who drove for the Repsol Honda Team. The following year in 2008 he made headlines by entering a bike race at the Pannonia-Ring in Hungary. The event was largely a club level event although there were a couple of IDM (the top German superbike championship) racers present for the weekend. Schumacher started the race at the back, but he managed to make his way up to third place by the checkered flag, giving the few hundred fans who had made the journey to watch him, a show. Beyond this Schumacher made a few other appearances on top level bikes, whether they were with MotoGP or SuperBike World Championship machinery. He seemed to never turn down an opportunity to drive anything. Beyond these few one-off tests and races, the true extent of his motorcycle hobby remains murky as he preferred to stay out of public view, although he did compete in a few other German Championship races.

Michael Schumacher testing a Yamaha R1 superbike (Unknown)

Mark Webber, everyone’s favorite Australian racing driver (sorry Daniel Ricciardo), got his first hands on experience with motorized vehicles at his father’s Yamaha dealership. In a way his father’s experience with motorbikes, led to Mark starting his karting career, as his father did not want him racing dirt bikes as he was aware of the risks involved. Currently, Kimi Raikkonen may be the biggest motorcycle fan on the Formula One grid. It must be said that he appears to be a fan of big American bikes, in particular custom choppers. The fact that he partnered with West Coast Choppers to start his own lifestyle brand was a decent giveaway. Although Sebastian Vettel is also known for his motorcycle collection.