Whilst Yamaha's new rider Maverick Viñales started the season off with two consecutive victories, the following spring season proved to be unpredictable with four different winners in as many races, following the trend from 2016. Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso then took his first dry-track MotoGP win at Mugello before repeating the feat the following week in Barcelona. With Viñales not finishing the race at Assen, this allowed Dovizioso to lead the championship by four points after eight races, becoming the first Ducati rider to lead the championship since Casey Stoner in 2009. Márquez took the championship lead after winning the German Grand Prix. He held the championship lead until the British Grand Prix, where Dovizioso regained the lead after Márquez's engine blew up late in the race. Márquez bounced back immediately to take consecutive victories in the next two rounds to reestablish himself as championship leader. Over the following three races, Dovizioso claimed two more wins to Márquez's one, but a poor result in Australia for the Ducati rider meant that Márquez's points lead remained intact.
Going into the final round in Valencia Márquez topped the standings, 21 points ahead of Dovizioso, with both riders winning six races apiece. Viñales was third, 56 points behind Márquez. Therefore, Márquez needed to finish 11th or higher to guarantee a championship, whereas Dovizioso was forced under all circumstances to win in Valencia.
Márquez was on pole in Valencia, and Dovizioso started 9th. After Márquez saved a high-speed potential crash into turn 1, he dropped back behind Dovizioso. The title chances of Dovizioso ended when he crashed with five laps of the race remaining, losing the hope in taking the championship. Meanwhile, Márquez finished third behind Dani Pedrosa and the season's top rookie and independent rider Johann Zarco. Márquez won his sixth title and fourth MotoGP title overall.
The British Grand Prix was scheduled to move from Silverstone to the new Circuit of Wales, but construction on the new track had not commenced. The two circuits reached a deal which would see Silverstone continue to host the British Grand Prix in 2017, with an option to host the 2018 race.
A rider may be assisted by no more than four mechanics while changing bikes during a pit stop, all of whom must wear approved helmets. A mechanic may hold in the bike's clutch lever, but only the rider is allowed to select a gear.