If Francesco Bagnaia had been able to match his 143 points over the second half of the MotoGP season during the opening nine rounds then, all else being equal, it would have been enough to pip Fabio Quartararo to the title by eight points.

That's no surprise given the Italian's near perfect end-of-season run where - aside from falling from the lead in Misano - he scored 116 out of a possible 125 points in the over events.

However, another Ducati rider made an even bigger second half improvement than Bagnaia's +34 points; rookie Enea Bastianini.

Riding an aging GP19 for Avintia, Bastianini scored just 27 points by the end of the Dutch TT, round 9 of 18. But Bastianini then almost trebled that haul with 75 points between Styria and Valencia, including two podiums, for a first half vs second half increase of 48 points.

That also allowed the young Italian to progress from 16th in the world championship after Assen, to 11th after Valencia. His climb of five positions was the biggest made by any rider completing the full 18-round season and second only to fellow rookie Jorge Martin, who gained nine places in the standings after missing four races due to injury in the first half.

But what might Martin have potentially achieved without the Portimao injuries?

If the Spaniard had been able to equal his 88 points scored during the second half of the season in the first, it would have given him 176 points for the year and put him fifth in the world championship, a few points from Factory Ducati's Jack Miller and just ahead of his own Pramac Ducati team-mate Johann Zarco.

Zarco was among the riders to suffer most during the second half, 'losing' 71 points relative to his first half performance and slipping from second to fifth in the world championship as a result. Had the Frenchman repeated his first-half form he would have closed the year with 244 points, enough for third in the world championship ahead of Joan Mir.

But the rider with the biggest drop in points over the second half of the season, without missing a race, was Miguel Oliveira.

The KTM star scored 85 points up to and including Assen, helped by 2-1-2 finishes in Italy, Catalunya and Germany. Such scorching form was enough to see Oliveira tipped as a potential title contender. Instead, he scored just nine points over the remaining nine rounds, a drop of 76 points. Oliveira tumbled down the standings from seventh to 14th as a result.

Replacing him as top KTM was team-mate Brad Binder, the South African scoring 31 points more during the second half, helped by a brave slicks-in-the-rain Austrian win, to rise from ninth to sixth in the final classification.

Suzuki's Alex Rins made a similar increase (33 points), largely by cutting down on the string of race mistakes in the first half. Team-mate  and reigning champion Mir had the most consistent season points-wise, with a variation of just 6 points (one DNF in each half) on his way to third.

The first/second half score similarity also underlines that the mid-season arrival of the GSX-RR's ride-height device didn't provide the boost in points Mir would have hoped for. Although, like Bagnaia and Miller, he did at least gain a championship place at Zarco's expense.

The biggest points swing between the first and second half was for Maverick Vinales (-84), who split from Yamaha in Austria and then raced for Aprilia in five of the final nine rounds...

MotoGP 2021: First half vs Second half points 
  Round 9PointsRound 18Points 10-181st/2nd half points diffFinal Points
1Fabio Quartararo156Fabio Quartararo122-34278
2Johann Zarco122Francesco Bagnaia14334252
3Francesco Bagnaia109Joan Mir1076208
4Joan Mir101Jack Miller81-19181
5Jack Miller100Johann Zarco51-71173
6Maverick Viñales95Brad Binder9131151
7Miguel Oliveira85Marc Marquez*9242142
8Aleix Espargaro61Aleix Espargaro59-2120
9Brad Binder60Jorge Martin8865111
10Marc Marquez*50Maverick Viñales*11-84106
11Takaaki Nakagami41Enea Bastianini7548102
12Pol Espargaro41Pol Espargaro*5918100
13Franco Morbidelli*40Alex Rins663399
14Alex Rins*33Miguel Oliveira9-7694
15Alex Marquez27Takaaki Nakagami35-676
16Enea Bastianini27Alex Marquez431670
17Danilo Petrucci26Franco Morbidelli*7-3347
18Jorge Martin*23Valentino Rossi271044
19Valentino Rossi17Luca Marini271341
20Luca Marini14Iker Lecuona261339
21Iker Lecuona13Danilo Petrucci11-1537

* Missed some events.