As a MotoGP journalist and television commentator, I have always been interested in not only covering the news but also trying to understand what is going on between the riders' ears, how their hearts beat differently, and what makes them special or unique. Drawing helps me think more deeply. Some people run to focus; I use my Wacom and Photoshop.

This past year, I decided to draw the 18 MotoGP race winners—six different riders, as it turned out—and their varied celebrations: Maverick Viñales pointing toward the sky; Marc Marquez jumping into the extended arms of his Repsol Honda team; Valentino Rossi and Marquez sticking out their tongues; shared happiness with teams, fans, and corner marshals.

I found the 24-year-old Marquez particularly challenging. He is hyper and constantly moving. Because he is now so skinny, his facial features are difficult to draw. Any line in the wrong place turns the six-time world champion into somebody else—as if he were subjected to a plastic surgeon’s scalpel.

Andrea Dovizioso is the total opposite, an illustrator's dream. His calmness shines through like he is posing and actually waiting for you to draw him. Dovi is almost as easy as his factory Ducati teammate, Jorge Lorenzo. In fact, I hoped Lorenzo would conquer the top step of the podium this year for one selfish reason: I wanted to draw him.

Riders and team members expect hard questions from journalists, who usually focus on problems and mistakes, so they always have their guard raised. When they see a painting, however, some of those barriers disappear. They no longer see a journalist holding a recorder but instead a fan of the sport. Riders sometimes forget that most of the media pass holders are also fans.

In a relaxed environment, riders and team members begin to speak more freely and even mention details they might not have shared during a “normal” interview. The process of asking members of the paddock for their personal opinions—something they usually keep close to their hearts—was interesting for me. After all, everyone just wants to share his (or her) joy for racing.

maverick vinales motogp rider painting
Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha MotoGPCourtesy of Tammy Gorali

Round 1: Wilco Zeelenberg, Movistar Yamaha rider performance analyst | Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha | Losail International Circuit, Qatar

“We were expecting a lot after the winter test because we were the fastest all nine days on track. After winning the Valencia race with Jorge [Lorenzo], winning Qatar with Maverick was really special. We replaced the rider but we were still winning and you can imagine that it was a bit surreal.

"It was wonderful to see a young kid in MotoGP who won his first race just a season earlier and now with the Yamaha looked very promising. The last five laps of the race with all the action between him, [Andrea] Dovizioso, and Vale [Rossi] were great to watch. After all the preparation and emotions we went through, it was an amazing feeling when he took the victory.

“Over the season, I don’t think we were expecting too much. Four or five races in, we were leading the championship. Even in the last few rounds, we could have still made a difference and that’s what you need as a champion. I don’t think we were over-enthusiastic. We seemed to be on the road to the championship but this is racing; things change.

“I was very proud to notice during the race that Maverick listened to me. We all saw the crash from Johann Zarco; it happened in a corner I mentioned to Maverick a few times advising him not to go there too wide as it can be very slippery when you have too much lean angle and you can lose the front even when the lean is correct.

“When Zarco crashed at turn 2, Vinales was one meter wider and the following lap he was even two meters wider to the left and opened more space so he would not end up like Zarco. We laughed about it after the race. Like any rider, Maverick is not a good listener; they are all focused on their own. But if it’s advice, they swallow it up.”

maverick vinales motogp rider painting
Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha MotoGPCourtesy of Tammy Gorali

Round 2: Patrick Primmer, Öhlins engineer | Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha | Termas de Río Hondo, Argentina

“Argentina is a track where we never had a great success—even with Lorenzo—but with Maverick’s confidence and the way he rode, we approached it like any other race. In qualifying, Maverick even surprised us, as he qualified sixth, first Yamaha, when it was his first time on the bike in the rain.

“At that point, we even thought we had a good thing going with the rider, Yamaha, and the rain, but it turned out to be different. Argentina was an easy weekend, we did not have to change too much; things are easy when you are fast. There is something good about Maverick being a younger rider.

“As riders get more experience, they get really opinionated in what must be changed and what does not work. With time, things change and adjustments that might have not worked in the past might work now. It’s nice to have a rider who just says what he feels, what’s missing, what he needs to go fast. He concentrates more on the riding than on the bike.”

marc marquez motogp rider painting
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda TeamCourtesy of Tammy Gorali

Round 3: Sergio Escrivano, Öhlins suspension engineer | Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda | Circuit of The Americas, United States

"This drawing captures a very similar scene to one of the greatest moments of my life. The win in 2015 was my first in MotoGP as I joined Marquez's side of the garage after two seasons with Scott Redding at Pramac and a career in World Superbike and Moto3. At first, I thought this drawing was from that day. It was incredible, a dream come true.

“I knew all the team members before I joined as we are all Spanish and from the paddock so the acceptance to the team was relatively easy, but still I had to do the transition from going out friends to colleagues. I remember that this specific race was not difficult; I hardly touched anything on the suspension. It was an easy race for me with a wonderful result.”

dani pedrosa motogp rider painting
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda TeamCourtesy of Tammy Gorali

Round 4: Sete Gibernau, 500cc Grand Prix race winner | Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda | Circuito de Jerez, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

“This picture is a lot of Dani. Dani has a very big heart, he has a lot of talent, and he has hurt himself really badly in racing. He has seen and felt all aspects of the sport many times for many years. Jerez is like a summary because he was fighting very hard there to recover something he had lost, and we knew the effort that he was making.

“I personally think he is doing something very special. If he keeps on going like this, good things will come for him. Looking at this reminds me that there are a lot of things happening inside of you during a race. Only a rider knows what you are going through. But racing is like that. You cannot avoid problems; it’s how you deal with them, just like life.

“We have to learn it’s not always going to be good, but that’s how you deal with the failures and successes. During the podium ceremony, I did not cry but it was a very emotional and special moment. I am putting a lot of passion into this. I know what we are going through. I know what we are working on for many years. Dani’s smile is my victory.”

maverick vinales motogp rider painting
Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha MotoGPCourtesy of Tammy Gorali

Round 5: Paco Sanchez, rider manager | Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha | Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix Race Circuit, France

“After two wins at the start of the season, we had a crash in Austin and then problems in Jerez. We had two races with almost zero points so the victory in Le Mans was positive and wonderful. The problem was that after this superb win, a very difficult period started for us with a lot of ups and downs—a real disaster.

“You see the love here that Maverick has for the M1. His problem during the season was not the bike. It was another issue; neither bike nor rider. No rider could win two out of three races and then forget how to ride in the next races. It just doesn’t happen. Top riders are always on the top, and they do anything possible to succeed.”

andrea dovizioso motogp rider painting
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati TeamCourtesy of Tammy Gorali

Round 6: Dr. Martin Raines, MotoGP statistician | Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team | L’autodromo del Mugello, Italy

“Not only was the Italian GP the first weekend in a long time in which all three winners of all three classes were Italian but Andrea Dovizioso won his first race of the season. That was a milestone: Italian rider, Italian bike, Italian soil. Danilo Petrucci even got on the podium.

“This result started us thinking maybe we could consider Dovi as part of the elite, as he started to put his claws on the championship. It also allowed us to see the real Ducati return to the top after the loss of Casey Stoner and its hard work in the last five to six years.

“I think a lot of people in the paddock were happy with that win as Dovizioso is a really well-liked guy, who was not really appreciated. He and Ducati worked hard at developing together bit by bit. Maybe he finally got a bike that was developed for him.”