In the modern world of electronics, carbon discs, wings and seamless gearboxes, it’s so refreshing to discover that it’s still the old grey cells that hold the key to success. As space-age technology continues to evolve, Aleix Espargaro’s plight at Barcelona was a clear indication that the input and effort from the rider and his brain must never be forsaken or underestimated

It may be scant compensation for a sobbing Aleix at Barcelona on Sunday, but he is not the first rider or team to make such a mistake. He is almost certainly not the last either. The sheer disbelief, frustration and anger was felt by everybody for the rider who was brought up within sight and sound of the Barcelona circuit. His hand raised as he crossed what he thought was the finishing line to bring Aprilia second place only to realise there was still a lap to go. He eventually recovered to finish fifth and admitted afterwards he was watching the lap scoring tower and not his pit board.

Thirteen years earlier, a Spanish rider wrecked his chance of the ultimate home victory on the very same Barcelona tarmac. Julian Simon crossed the line in first place with his arm raised to celebrate victory in the 2009 125cc race, but there was still a lap to go. Like Aleix, he admitted afterwards he’d been watching the lap tower and not his pit board. He eventually finished fourth after a photo finish with teammate Sergio Gadea, with the race won by Andrea Iannone. But take heart Aleix because Julian Simon went on to win the World title that year.

In 2014, sixteen riders were chasing victory in a staggering Moto3™ race at Brno. Alex Rins celebrated victory a lap early and eventually finished ninth such was the ferocity of the chasing pack. His misfortune handed Frenchman Alexis Masbou his first Grand Prix win.

Probably the most remembered MotoGP™ premature celebration was at Estoril in 2006. It was a 28-lap race that played such a vital part in the outcome of the World title. Repsol Honda teammates Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden had already collided in this penultimate round of the title chase. In a three-way battle at the front, former World Champion Kenny Roberts Jr celebrated victory a lap too early. The later first Moto2™ World Champion Toni Elias grabbed his one and only premier class win with Valentino Rossi second and Roberts third. Those vital 20 points for Rossi gave him an eight-point lead over Hayden going into the final round at Valencia but the title went to the American.

It would be wrong to always blame the riders for a bit of brain fade in the heat of the moment. Would you believe it but even commentators have been known to get it wrong? At Jerez in 1996, it is alleged the circuit commentator announced the end of a titanic battle between local hero Alex Criville and World Champion Mick Doohan a lap early. The home fans streamed onto the track to celebrate while Criville and Doohan had to dodge them as they fought a last lap battle. Criville crashed on the final corner and Doohan won the race.

So, commentators and riders have not always got it right but sometimes even the teams get it wrong. Repsol Honda got it very wrong at Phillip Island in 2013. Marc Marquez was closing in on his first MotoGP™ title in his debut season. The circuit had been resurfaced and Bridgestone knew their tyres would not last the race distance and so a flag-to-flag race with a compulsory pit stop was planned. Riders were instructed to change tyres on laps nine or ten. Maths had never been my strong point, but I marked down each lap as the riders raced down the magnificent Gardner main straight. When Marquez raced past at the end of lap ten, I thought I must have run out of fingers and miscalculated but for once it was not me. The Repsol Honda team had not run out of fingers and unbelievably had missed a lap. Marquez was black-flagged, handing 25 precious points to Jorge Lorenzo. But, once again, take heart Aleix, Marquez still was crowned World Champion at the end of the season.

Thank goodness we are still only human.