The 2022 MotoGP Silly Season: The Slow Burn Starts

Despite the fact that almost the entire MotoGP grid started the year without a contract for 2023 and beyond, it has been extremely quiet on the contract front so far this year. The only new contract announced was the unsurprising news that Pecco Bagnaia is to stay in the factory Ducati team for the next two seasons, with that contract announced between the Mandalika test and the season opener at Qatar.

The general feeling seems to be one of wanting to wait and see. An informal poll of team managers at the Sepang test suggest that they expected to wait until Mugello at the earliest to start thinking about next year. At the moment, it seems likely that major moves will not be made until after the summer break.

But that doesn't mean there won't be any major moves made, however. There are growing rumors of talks having started behind the scenes among several key players. If these talks play out as expected, the grid could see look rather different in 2023.

The key figure in contract talks for next year and beyond is Fabio Quartararo. Unsurprisingly, the reigning world champion is in high demand. Reports continue to circulate that there are multiple factories interested in procuring the Frenchman's services, with the Repsol Honda team at the head of that list.

Why would Quartararo consider leaving the factory with which he has just won a championship? Yamaha appear to have underestimated just how much work their rivals have done during the two-year engine homologation freeze imposed at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ducati is accelerating better, Suzuki is much more powerful, the Aprilia is a massively better bike than it was before the pandemic, as Aleix Espargaro's first win for Aprilia in Argentina demonstrated.

By contrast, Yamaha does not appear to have made much progress since last year. The M1 made a big step from 2020 to 2021, creating a more adaptable bike that worked at a much wider range of tracks and had a wider performance window. But progress from 2021 to 2022 appears to have been minor, with rear grip problems a prominent concern.

Top speed is a particular concern, though this is partially a result of the aero package Yamaha have selected to use for the first part of the season. The Japanese factory has gone with a high-downforce configuration of its front aero package, which is aimed at reducing wheelie. That sacrifices top speed for acceleration, and with three of the first four races featuring high-speed straights, the M1 has suffered. Yamaha are hoping to benefit from the flip side of that compromise once the series returns to Europe, and they race at tracks like Jerez, Le Mans, and Misano.

Not ready

Fabio Quartararo has been less than enthusiastic about this compromise since the start of the season, however. "To be honest, when we are at these kinds of tracks, we are not ready to fight for the podium," the Frenchman said after the race in Austin. "But now we are going to Europe, better tracks for us I think, and I'm just going to do my best to fight for the championship."

He may be ready to fight for the championship, but he was deliberately vague about whether the Yamaha M1 is the tool he needs. "Whether the bike is ready, I have my opinion, but what is true is I give all the time my 100%. For 6th position, 7th, it doesn't matter. I give my 100% all the time." When asked for his opinion, his reply was ominous. "I will keep it for myself."

On Friday, Quartararo's manager Eric Mahé told the MotoGP.com broadcast that there were already talks with other teams, but that their priority was to stay with Yamaha. Quartararo brushed away questions about his future, saying he was focused first and foremost on 2022.

One day at a time

"To be honest, right now I feel like I'm focused on the present," the Frenchman told us on Friday night in Austin. "Because it's not that we are looking at options that I want to leave, because it's completely not like that. But right now I feel that my priority is to fight for the championship this year, and I have not so much time to think about other things."

Quartararo needs all his attention for his championship battle on race weekends, but in the period between races, he would start to investigate his options, he said. "When I'm on the race weekend, I have all my attention on doing my best all the weekend, but it's true that at the end, we also have to look at my future, and we will have a look during this month or next month."

Yamaha have a lot to lose if Quartararo departs. Currently, the Frenchman is the only rider capable of being consistently fast with the M1. Franco Morbidelli shows flashes of pace with the 2022 bike, but with the exception of the wet and weird Mandalika race, his results have been disappointing. Andrea Dovizioso's pace of adaptation to the Yamaha is slow, though he too has made progress. But Dovizioso and Morbidelli finished nearly 30 seconds behind the winner and 23 seconds behind Quartararo at the Grand Prix of The Americas in Austin. Rookie Darryn Binder is on the 2021 Yamaha, and so is of little use as a reference.

There has been talk of Yamaha still having an interest in Raul Fernandez, after missing out on the Spanish rookie in the summer last year. KTM CEO Stefan Pierer forced Fernandez' hand by announcing KTM were holding him to his contract to race for them in MotoGP in Austria last year, and Fernandez has resented that ever since. Rumors suggest Fernandez is looking to leave KTM at the first opportunity.

The opportunity may have already passed, however. Fernandez is yet to score a point in MotoGP, and is currently behind his teammate Remy Gardner in the championship, and fourth among the five 2022 rookies. He has not made any impression whatsoever so far this season, with Marco Bezzecchi being the cream of the crop so far. He is a far less appealing prospect than he was in the middle of 2021, when he was being chased by all and sundry. As of the Austin round of MotoGP, he is looking rather ordinary, and not the slam dunk that we all though he would be last year.

The grass is not always greener

There is of course Toprak Razgatlioglu, but sources in the WorldSBK paddock insist that the Turkish rider is entirely indifferent to the idea of a swap to MotoGP. Razgatlioglu is very happy in WorldSBK, and was competitive at the first round of the World Superbike championship, despite losing out to Alvaro Bautista and Jonathan Rea.

A seat in the factory team may be enough to tempt him, but the thought of 21 or 22 races in MotoGP, as compared to 13 or 14 rounds of WorldSBK is definitely unappealing. Add to that, an environment in WorldSBK where he is very happy and surrounded by friends, and a manager, Kenan Sofuoglu, who has unhappy memories of the MotoGP paddock, and a switch to MotoGP is a very, very long way from being a given.

Meanwhile over at Honda, Pol Espargaro has to deal with the general perception that HRC are shopping around for an alternative to him for next year. On Thursday in Austin, the Spaniard brusquely dismissed talk of being replaced. "I saw a lot of rumors and names going on, but at the moment I am happy where I am. Honda is happy with me. At the moment I am faster than the guys they are talking about to take my bike! So I am not super-worried about it," Espargaro joked.

He expected talks with Honda to get underway in the coming weeks, Espargaro told us. "This is something that will come in the next races. It is still too early. We have only done three races and it looks like this year everything is going smoothly than last years."

Changing manufacturers came with a great deal of risk now, Espargaro warned in a pointed reference to the fact that Fabio Quartararo is being so strongly linked to his seat at Repsol Honda. "At the end of the day I don’t see many potential changes in the category with different bikes. The category has arrived to a moment where there is a super peculiar way of riding, and the riders have their way of riding the bike to match each other. It is risky to change because the level is so high and a change of the bike, even if it seems better, can be risky and can finish your career. The level is so high that you really need to check deeply where to go and what you want to do."

Quartararo was visibly irritated when these comments were brought up, and asked if he was worried about switching manufacturers. "I do whatever I think is right," he snapped. "Because if everybody thinks like that, nobody will change teams and everybody will stay in the same."

What mattered was not how a particular bike needed to be ridden, but whether it was competitive or not, Quartararo insisted. "At the end, you need to not think about these things, about if you get used to this bike or not. If you think that the bike has potential, it will take time for sure, because when you make so much time with one brand. But at the end, you need to not think about getting used to one bike. So this is one thing that is totally out of my mind."

It was about the potential of the bike and having confidence in your own ability to adapt, the Frenchman told us. "For me it's about the project. That's the most important thing. Then on riding style, you need to adapt yourself, whatever. And even with our bike sometimes, we made a massive change in Mandalika, of course it's different, but you get used to it. You feel different, you adapt," he said.

Having access to data made this a great deal easier, Quartararo said. "At the end it's great to see that with the data now, I think it's more easy now to adapt yourself because you can compare with many riders, I remember my first two years, we compared a lot with Valentino, with Maverick, with Frankie and at the end you can see where you need to improve compared to the others. So this is the important thing."

It is not entirely surprising that Honda are considering an alternative for Pol Espargaro, despite the fact that the Spaniard is looking much more competitive than he did in 2021. Marc Marquez' astonishing charge through the field in Austin was impressive, and demonstrated just how much better he is than anyone else on the grid.

But the fact that a good result was even in question is a testament to how Marquez' situation has changed. The past four years have started to tell something of the toll Marquez is paying for his appetite for risk and willingness to poke his toes, and sometimes a large part of his feet, well over the edge of the precipice.

Shoulder surgery to fix dislocation problems at the end of 2018 and 2019, then the massive crash at Jerez, followed by a premature return which would end in a bone infection and Marquez missing the entire 2020 season and the first part of 2021. A training crash at the end of last year which saw a recurrence of the double vision problems which nearly ended his career in 2011, then the huge highside at Mandalika which caused the diplopia to come back again if much more mildly.

It is clear that Marc Marquez will not be racing for another decade at this rate. Another blow to the head in a bad crash would probably instantly end his career. That could come at any time, either the next race, next year, or in five or six years. But his willingness to take risks in pursuit of glory, his desire to win everything, all the time, regardless of the potential cost, means that Honda know they cannot rely on having Marquez long term. HRC need insurance, and are shopping around for that.

One surprising rumor which emerged in Austin was that Aprilia was starting to look beyond Aleix Espargaro. The older of the Espargaro brothers has been linked to an unnamed Japanese manufacturer, in part because talks with Aprilia about his future had gotten off to a rocky start.

This had come as a surprise to Espargaro, whose main focus was on staying with Aprilia. "Sincerely my desire, my head wants to stay in Aprilia two more years. I feel super strong, super fast. I want to stay," the Spaniard said.

So far, Aprilia had not made him feel indispensable, Espargaro told us. "I did not have any offer yet. The first talks they have with my manager were really disappointing, really disappointing. I feel very sad because we are completely super far (apart). But there is still time."

Espargaro made oblique reference to the fact that he had won the previous race in Argentina, the first for the Italian manufacturer in MotoGP. "I hope they value my work here during these years. My desire is to stay. But obviously I’ve proved I’m fast and I have experience developing the bikes. So the paddock will move and we will have other opportunities. But once again, I want to stay in Aprilia."

If Aleix Espargaro could be on the move, Miguel Oliveira is looking increasingly likely to stay. After Brad Binder signed up for two more years at Mugello last year, very early into his first year of a two-year deal, committing to KTM through the 2024 season, the future of Oliveira was far from settled. But talks are rumored to be close to a conclusion. And with his home grand prix coming up at Portimão, that would be an ideal place for KTM to announced they have reached a deal with the Portuguese rider.

The second seat at Ducati, on the other hand, is up in the air. Despite scoring his first podium of the year in Austin, and leading his teammate in the championship, Jack Miller is far from certain to stay in the factory Ducati Lenovo team. Ducati have an abundance of talent to choose from, with Enea Bastianini having won two of the first four races, and currently leading the championship, while the hotly tipped Jorge Martin has two poles and two second place starts, along with a podium in his second year in the category. Ducati has a lot of options to replace Miller in the factory team should they so decide.

Acutely conscious of the way the winds at Ducati are blowing, Miller said that having a seat in the factory team was not his highest priority. A seat back at Pramac, where he spent three seasons from 2018 to 2020, would not be an insurmountable obstacle for him, the Australian said. "I wouldn’t care. As you can tell, the bikes are all good. They’re fantastic. I know for a fact that they’re on the same equipment."

What mattered to Miller was having a competitive bike and a chance to keep competing. "It doesn’t bother me. As long as I’m in MotoGP getting to live my dream, then that’s the main thing for me. Getting the opportunity to fight for podiums and be here with all the fans, that’s the main part," the Australian said.

The fact that he made these statements in the post-race podium press conference, after finishing third and his best result of the 2022 season, may have made him feel more comfortable. Miller is now the second Ducati rider in the championship behind Enea Bastianini, ahead of both Pramac riders and his teammate Pecco Bagnaia. He may not be Ducati's favorite son – no non-Italian rider ever truly is, though being Australian is the next best thing, given the history of Troy Bayliss and Casey Stoner with the Bologna factory – but if he is to be moved out of the factory team, he starts his negotiations from a position of strength.

From the unknown to the known

The weird start to the 2022 season, with Mandalika and Argentina taking place under exceptional conditions, and Qatar and the Circuit of The Americas being such outliers, makes it hard to truly assess who is having a strong season, and which manufacturers are working well. With MotoGP heading back to Europe, and familiar ground, negotiations should start to hot up. But even then, there is no hurry.

The next four or five races at tracks which the riders and teams know like the back of their hands should give everyone a chance to demonstrate their worth. And it will also give the teams and factories to assess the talent available in Moto2, to see how Pedro Acosta is developing, for example, to confirm that Fermin Aldeguer really is as good as everyone thinks, to figure out what to make of Celestino Vietti, of Ai Ogura, of Somkiat Chantra, Tony Arbolino, Aron Canet, Augusto Fernandez.

Silly Season may be about to enter a more active phase, but the pace of progress will still be slow. There will be talks, but contracts are likely to wait until closer to the summer break. It makes a nice change from previous years, where everything seemed to get done before the season even started.


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Comments

It'll be interesting to see it all pan out, a few meaningless thoughts...

Aliex - Would any other manufacturer really take him on?  There's a large pool of hot properties at present, much younger (cheaper) riders with lots of potential.  I think Aprilia know that his only option is to continue with them or move out of MotoGP, and in spite of recent good results have probably offered the pay appropriately.  I get the impression Aliex is sufficiently moralistic (and his family sufficiently loaded) that he may just walk if he feels offended by what he thinks is a lowball offer.

Factory Duc - Jack is on the money there, get back to Pramac.  From my couch it does not appear that they have learnt anything from the repeated dissatisfaction of their best riders.  All those old bulls in the pit box seem like trouble to me.  The crushing of riders bones and spirits in the mechanism of all those inter-meshing egos is painful to watch.

Bastianinni - I'd like to see him stay with Gresini with full factory support.  Time was, Gresini ran a better team than factory Honda and at present they are doing it again.

Quatararo - given the issues he had when he lost the magic feel of the Yammie's front end at times during 2020, it will be interesting to see how he goes if he moves.  I hope he doesn't go to Honda.  At the same time, I can appreciate he sort of needs to move... Yamaha had multiple warnings that they needed to 'bring it' THIS year, and they simply didn't.  Fab can't risk another 2 years of the same.

Sun's out... I should go do something in the shed!

Bastianini before the season started said he wants the factory Ducati seat (not a 2023 Ducati in a satellite team) for 2023. He made it crystal clear what his ambitions were, thus far he's backed it up the only rider with 2 wins from the first 4 races. People forget he's a Moto2 champion, he's adapted to Motogp quicker than Mir, Bagnaia. The Beast is the real deal!

Quartararo it would be a big gamble staying at Yamaha as they have refused to increase the top speed of the Yamaha for close to a decade. Unlike Suzuki who have gave the 2022 Suzuki a decent speed boost for a in line 4 bike.

Honda Marc Marquez has the natural talent to win more Motogp titles. But he also could crash injure that eye chasing the title. They really need a second top rider, would be interesting to see how Quartararo, Bastianini or Rins on the Honda. Pol nice guy but simply isn't good enough to challenge for the title. 

Might they all fall like dominoes after (in a few to several weeks) Quartararo announces that he went to Honda or Ducati? There are NO breadcrumbs pointing at staying Blue. 

It wasn't a surprise at all that Black is looking for a kid to take Aleix's seat. It has been signaled since late last season. Just intensified struggle with it since he just won. Not saying I like it, but it is understandable. Aleix has been relentless and quite impressive, but they are future focused for more.

I have seen Quartararo going to Duc. He can get what he wants right now, perhaps the only rider we'd say that about. Which bike would YOU want now?

The KTM -- Oliveira marriage is an interesting one. He blows hot and cold. So does the bike. They have several very promising kids. Fernandez albeit just by a thread, but they have good kids pipelined. Somehow the 2nd Factory seat strikes me as something that should be desirable, but isn't so much. Oliveira was looking at leaving, at a time that he isn't making such a strong showing. It isn't a very compelling signing for me. A bit of a puzzle remains there.

Rins is not likely to be continuing along this early season splendid form. I think he crashes out of a race in a few Rounds, and it begets more of the same in flustered desperation. We only have two of the lovely Suzukis. I prefer to see a young phenom signed for the 2nd seat. We will see in a bit, Mir has signaled staying and after he signs the rest of our dominoes can fall.

Anyhoo, plenty has been said. This Silly Season is most interesting. Popcorn out as they say.

Europe! Agreed that Portimao is a gem. Get Rins' spare parts bin replenished. That crest and drop portion gives us some of the loveliest sights all year. And no seagulls like a similar chicane beauty at P.I. 

Salivating!

I would actually like Quartararo to join Ducati or Suzuki. As Yamaha have never gave their riders more top speed even back when Rossi and Lorenzo were asking for it years ago!

As for Rins he has faster raw speed than Mir who won 2020 season because of his consistency. Not making many mistakes. This season Rin has matured after having a child and we are seeing him podium two races in a row. Mir simply isn't as fast.

 

Ducati made a mistake signing Bagnaia so early. Bastianini deserves the factory Ducati seat, as does Martin. Honda it's a tricky one as no one really wants to be Marc Marquez teammate. Well maybe Alex his brother would. Or the hot 17 year old Moto2 talents Acosta and Aldeguer! 

Just one quick thought - wouldn't Toprak moving to MotoGP mean a lighter workload, when the Superbikes are cramming two or three races into every round?

I just did the math on the back of a napkin and I think they have almost identical total riding times during a race weekend, with MotoGP likely to have higher press duties and promotional responsibilities for at least the top riders. 

MotoGP
45 min fp1
45 min fp2
45 min fp3
30 mins fp4
15 min q1
15 min q2
20 min wup
approx. 45min race 
= 4hr 20min

WSBK
50min fp1
50min fp2
20 min fp3
25 min superpole
approx 40m Race 1 
15 min wup
approx 15m Superpole Race
approx 40m Race 2
= 4hr 15min

Particularly amused by your Honda comment. It's not just the existing riders who might play a bit of musical chairs, lots of people who might be on their way out to make way for newbies ...

Zarco ... up, down, backwards, sideways. Needs some consistency. I'd still like to see him get a win before he moves on
Nakagami -- past time to head home to Japan
Dovi -- time to go play motocross and count his money
Marini -- so he's Rossi's brother and can sometimes do a fast quali lap. So what?
Oliveira -- kind of like Zarco, but with a win now and then
de Gianantonio -- why this guy got a ride I'll never understand
Marquez Jr -- total waste of a ride despite his titles, doubt he'd be there if he wasn't MM's little brother
Binder Jr -- jury's still out on that one
Espargaro Snr -- troubles with Aprilia contract time? Maybe he'll leave and go bicycle racing
 

 Well he has been kind of a bore lately.../I know the way out

For the last couple of years I’ve been reading about how good Binder and Oliveira‘s ability is, but often I wonder why. Maybe they did have it but aside from a couple of good races, it’s not enough to convince me (IMHO having the balls to win by staying on slicks in the rain, while impressive, doesn’t count in terms of consistent speed and race craft). Perhaps the Thriller can get a few more tens a lap out of the KTM and help with development.

Jack would be a great fit for WSBK, on either the Duc or Kawasaki. This might not be on his radar yet, but JR can only have another one or two seasons, same for Bautista as neither are spring chickens. I think he’d do well, certainly get some wins if not a title or two.

"The Japanese factory has gone with a high-downforce configuration of its front aero package, which is aimed at reducing wheelie. That sacrifices top speed for acceleration, and with three of the first four races featuring high-speed straights, the M1 has suffered." - Wouldn't the engineers back in Japan know this (in advance) and avoid the (realized) outcomes?

COTA showed that Marc is the dominant force in MGP, even though he's a wounded/healing. Without the electronic issue, he'd probably won, at the very least a podium. IF, and that's a HUGE IF, he can stay on the bike/healthy, I really don't see anyone beating him...with the only possibility be Quat. None of the other pretenders have enough consistency. It'll start to get real interesting next week.

I’m with you on this, and still sticking to MM for the title. Had FQ built more momentum on the points table during the early rounds, I might be doubting myself, but….

Although I’d much rather see someone else win it all. 

 

… me too. Though I think if Quarty had been on a better bike, he’d have stopped Marquez in his tracks. As far as I can remember, he was the only one overtaken that had the ability (but not the machinery) to fight back. However, if MM93 does go on to take the title he’ll have deserved it.

The Marc is still here, and may have just now last Sunday regained his form and sufficiently adapted to the new bike. HOWEVER, he has a big vulnerability of the head/vision alongside his crash obsession. 

Fabio may be the current Alien. Every single Manu is interested. 

Quarty will want a great bike. What has he been experiencing on track? Every damn Tom, Dick or Harry has been able to outrun him on the Ducati. The Suzuki looks GREAT, but not on par w Red. Honda? Much tougher call now, again not on par w Ducati. 

Say what you will about rider relations, but it is a Euro team full of passion and heroes. Best bike out there methinks. More importantly, what is Fabio thinking? Just a few weeks and we should know. "Rumored to be in serious talks w Honda" breadcrumbs are there. I see tea leaves pointing to Duc too -- we don't have much to go on. Could ge surprise us and go Suzuki? Somehow I don't see it, Hamamatsu just perpetually under functions in these matters. And there would be some breadcrumbs if FabQ had a strong preference for the bike. Honda will be really after him, it is their way. He has multiple offers he is considering, that breadcrumb is there.

> Fabio may be the current Alien. Nice to see it acknowledged. I remember, maybe back in 2019, at a track like Misano or Assen with one of those fast kinks. Fabio was practicing folding and recovering the front at speed. When I saw that I said who else besides Marquez in this field practices that. Alien.

I remember that. So amazing. If I remember correctly Marc was impressed that Fabio could play with the limit at that speed. Fabio is special for sure. Seems to have extra sensitive feel for the machine, seriously impressive.

Fabio still has 8th place finishes and tracks where he just isn't in for the win for whatever reason. He is fast on his day and it's true that that is most days but a true alien is always fast a la MM. Fabio stands just above a few others and behind MM by a margin. I don't see him as being on another planet tho. Bestia looks to be on a very interesting trajectory. I like that kid a lot lot. Plus he gave me my all-time favorite stoppie when Zarco surprised him by being on the track

Don't want to be too much a fanbois, but 8th in this field is the same or better than 4th in the lorenzo, pedrosa, rossi, et al alien era. Field much deeper now even if fewer "aliens".

It was Misano, curvone. I remember when he was doing that like a kid trying to do it like daddy does. Seems to have worked he had a good battle for the win at that race. Lost out last lap 3 turns to go. I don't think it is so much about depth of rider talent. The 'alien era' of Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner was dominated by few competitive bikes. Honda, Yamaha and Ducati. More often than not, no other bikes could compete on a regular basis. The gaps were usually big. Even at the begining of the Marquez era finishing 20 seconds down on the leader bagged you a top ten and maybe better. Ten seconds down was a decent shout at the podium. Today 20 seconds down is still good for a top ten except in certain stand out races. However, inside the top ten is a lot tighter. Ten seconds down will more than likely not result in a podium, maybe 6th.

Outlier theory works for bikes, too. As development proceeds it becomes more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd by more than a wee margin. Bikes are closer than ever, the manus have now all won. The riders are closer than ever, for the first time all 24 have won at least one GP race.

I see Pecco, Enea, Jorge, Joan, Rins, Fabio and BBinder on a level below MM and just below that Jack, Miguel, Pol and Aleix. It is extremely close among all of these so I don't want to come off as criticizing anyone. They are all race winners and that is impressive, as is even getting there at all as Danilo reminded us last weekend when he showed America the level a "cast-off" Motogp rider is at.

Maybe Baz shoulda tried Dakar first. I still can't believe Petrux won a stage. These guys are different. 

Personally I can't see Marc Marquez winning the title this season. Early enough at 40 odd points behind Bastianini but one bad fall from a crash in qualifying or a race and he will miss a good chunk of races!

Plus apart from Austin and Germany Marc isn't unbeatable now. Too many other riders can win at the other circuits. Marc will be lucky if he finishes inside the top 5 standings.

I also don't think the Honda will evolve as good as the Ducati as the season goes on. Ie Marc will have to push at the limit which means likely crashes. 

Interesting thoughts here Motomutterers. If Aprilia were to push Aleix out it would be real injury to the high regard and underdog status they are apparently cultivating. With no mention of Maverick's future it would seem truly bizarre to favour him over Aleix, IMHO. It does seem like Rins' future rather depends upon him staying on top of the bike for a lot more of the season. If he does he might go close to winning the whole damn thing. Must also congratulate David and the mutterers who continue to more accurately forecast MM fortunes than I do. Apart from the continuous physical recovery phase he is in, there is the rather large amount of fettling that his bike is undergoing. For mere mortals that would be too much. For Marc - well we saw it a COTA. Given a sniff he is likely to get the entire damn pudding. And if FQ does move to Ducati then it is going to get pretty messy in that camp. I think that breganzane's comment is spot on - I would only add that the obsession with the engineering 'genius' those fellas bring to bear does rather seem to take priority over a raceable package and the support of their pilots. 

And: was it wrong of me to enjoy Rins' Ukrainian flavoured celebrations? Perhaps I should just 'stick to bikes'?

Has never been known to be kind to riders, if anything worse than Ducati or Honda. Ask Scott Redding or Sam Lowes. There seems to have been a shift with Rivola coming on board, though, one can hope.

Like you, I was impressed with Rins' Ukrainian flag. Quiet, but pointed.

Aprilia should dig into that Piaggio cash and offer Fabio and Rins whatever it takes to replace AE41 and MV12.

I like all the other readers here have armchair wisdom… but I don’t understand why some are so harsh about some of the riders. These guys are the best in the world. We are very lucky to watch and enjoy their fantastic and insane abilities. But let’s not dis their abilities

anyway…

I feel for Alex Marquez. He has an excellent style but not the Honda’s style… it was a double edged sword being Marc’s brother as it would of been hard to say no to Honda when they were desperate and Marc advising him. I always thought he would be good on Yamaha or Suzuki but these years at Honda have hurt him. In 2020 we were all impressed with his second places and looked like he had emerged but… that motorcycle has hurt many riders.

Rins has changed. He is much more careful. Suzuki would make a mistake dropping him.

Taka is on shaky ground which is unfortunate. He is a great guy, but the Honda is a tough beast and he doesn’t look like he has the find the edge by crashing mentality… 

Fabio is lucky and can go where he like I think

Jack Miller, I think it would help Ducati and Pecco if the team stays the same and they keep stability across the whole team to ensure that the Pecco plan comes off. Adding Martin or Bastia to the mix will hurt more than help the team.

Mir, I got the feeling he will replace Pol and that will leave Pol with no where to go which is a shame

All the rookies deserve their places. Luca was Moto2 runner up and would have been very close to Bastia had not the LeMans huge high side happened. 
Diggia is a good rider, just needs time. 
Fernandez… KTM is not his preferred bike, but like David said, his price has dropped and he needs to get that MotoGP feeling going before he should think about pulling the pin on KTM. 
Remy, bad luck,with the injury.

Thank you David for all your hard work. MotoGP is just on the boil and you are giving it the time and depth it requires. 

I like all the other readers here have armchair wisdom… but I don’t understand why some are so harsh about some of the riders. These guys are the best in the world. We are very lucky to watch and enjoy their fantastic and insane abilities. But let’s not dis their abilities

anyway…

I feel for Alex Marquez. He has an excellent style but not the Honda’s style… it was a double edged sword being Marc’s brother as it would of been hard to say no to Honda when they were desperate and Marc advising him. I always thought he would be good on Yamaha or Suzuki but these years at Honda have hurt him. In 2020 we were all impressed with his second places and looked like he had emerged but… that motorcycle has hurt many riders.

Rins has changed. He is much more careful. Suzuki would make a mistake dropping him.

Taka is on shaky ground which is unfortunate. He is a great guy, but the Honda is a tough beast and he doesn’t look like he has the find the edge by crashing mentality… 

Fabio is lucky and can go where he like I think

Jack Miller, I think it would help Ducati and Pecco if the team stays the same and they keep stability across the whole team to ensure that the Pecco plan comes off. Adding Martin or Bastia to the mix will hurt more than help the team.

Mir, I got the feeling he will replace Pol and that will leave Pol with no where to go which is a shame

All the rookies deserve their places. Luca was Moto2 runner up and would have been very close to Bastia had not the LeMans huge high side happened. 
Diggia is a good rider, just needs time. 
Fernandez… KTM is not his preferred bike, but like David said, his price has dropped and he needs to get that MotoGP feeling going before he should think about pulling the pin on KTM. 
Remy, bad luck,with the injury.

Thank you David for all your hard work. MotoGP is just on the boil and you are giving it the time and depth it requires. 

Fabio signs for Yamaha, the manufacturer having agreed pay parity with Marc and a programme of development that will give him a bike to beat Marc on. Fabio holds all the cards - just look at where Yamaha would be without him - he knows it and so do Yamaha. After all, he’s the best. 

I think it would take a break down in the relationship between them to move team. How this season goes will be important I guess. The great Yamaha speed deficit is as it has been was been is been. He doesn't hold all the cards.

^ Speed deficit plus rear grip problems. The bike sucks right at the time of a grand silly season. No one but Quartararo is doing anything on it. D.Binder's bike seems to be coiling itself into the shape of a noose. Dovisioso is openly stating that nothing more can become of this bike. It is shifting shape into a comfortable chair he retires into. Morbidelli minimizes his voice patiently waiting for change fought for by Fabio. From where? The 2nd Factory Yamaha is in 15th of 22 bikes in the points for the season. 16th is Taka Nakagoingbye. It looks BAD from here. Most seem to say the same. Perhaps including Fabio.

After the last race, what does Fabio say?

"What can I do? I can't do anything. If you check today, I was sixth (grid spot) and I was the first bike that was not a Ducati."

What does he seem to be thinking? I wish I had marked the time on videos at the beginning of the season where he had a completely reversed downtrodden and withdrawn affect entering the garage and greeting the Team. It spoke volumes. I saw it on two occasions to be clear/distinctive. His words around that time were too. And have not varied. Been keenly noting EVERY snippet and bit. It would shock me if he stayed Blue. 

Mir? He changed tune. He's signaled staying since getting aboard the improved 2022 Suzuki. 

My blind guess is that among the twelve factory riders silly season will be a snooze fest. P. Espargaro voiced my perspective (a hopeful tone in Pol's words?), and Pernat expressed pessimism about Bastianini joining the red box (who knows what Pernat's angle is). The Beast is doing great in his current home and Ducati factory support may be more effective from a distance.

Watching the COTA race from Rins' onboard calls into question the rumored 30 or 15 aitch pee increase in Suzuki power. When Rins shifted into second gear coming out of turn 11, Bastianini's Ducati said "See Ya Suzook!" And the same dustup was repeated many times by various Ducatis - the bikes with a crapload of fins. Sure, Rins drafted past Quartararo along the back straight only for Quartararo to dive up the inside into turn 12, then Rins passed Quarty and that's the last the viewer sees of the Yamaha. The difference between the aero loads of the Suzuki and Yamaha wings and Yamaha's rear grip issues may be playing a part there. Plus Rins' affinity for COTA. He passed someone around the outside through the esses (where he made lots of time every lap) and more than once took two riders on the brakes into turn 11. My guess is Rins takes a lot of chances on the brakes and with the front in order to make up for the inline four power deficit. He was less communicative last year? One can only imagine his thought bubble: "If you bozos knew how many times per lap I almost crash in order to remain competitive... " But hey, maybe he's gotta toe the line and cannot freely speak his mind. And maybe the Suzuki bosses want to keep their two riders because they make the bike look really good. The COTA race from Marquez' onboard looks like he is wrangling a wild beast for forty minutes. Rins' onboard looks like an artist sublimely painting zebra stripes around a racetrack.

If only we knew how many times each rider almost crashed during a race. Not the regular "almost crashed" moments, but the times when they really think they are going to crash and are in disbelief when they discover after the critical moment that they are still on the bike and in the race.

Does a guy really have to say, "my opinion" after anything he types? We're all talking story.

ps: Miller does tend to express his emotions freely at times, and he seemed to have an air of resignation when addressing Patterson's questions during the post race presser. A move is afoot?

I think in Rins's case it was the times he didn't nearly crash. He never once reached for the bag of excuses though. I think it would be useless to say anythnig other than the 'party line' when your team mate outscores you by 109 points. Better to do the talking on the track. So far this year, both Suzuki doing very nicely.

"...Miller ...  seemed to have an air of resignation..."

Agreed. He seemed very dejected even though he had just podiumed and had every right to be very happy. That and reading between the lines of what he was saying.

Pramac would be a good (re) fit for him; much better team atmosphere while on the same bikes as the factory?

I saw the same dramatic emotional tone shift for Quartararo in his box more than once early in the year. Loud and clear.

I bet Pramac feels good! Less media duties too.

I know sometimes it sounds harsh, the riders a very good and deserve appreciation and respect. There is also the mill pushing through young talent, and the Factory seats are in a rushing river. Fine line between feeling out what is going on vs being a jerk. This community does a good job generally though don't they? Pinnacle if the sport, it really can be heart breakingly brutal. 

Example, just starting on a fairly uncompetitive bike can spell the end of your career. Rabat was a Marquez family friend and promising fast rider, he got really banged up here. Or a host of 2nd best riders, REALLY fast but just outclassed...Sete Gibernau for instance. He gets very mild praise and few words. Rather brutal in a way, there can be "loser" tone in narrative just because someone peaked at 2nd. Ouch! 

If I could ride half as well as the guy who comes last in Moto 3, I would be a happy man.

You'd be the fastest guy at every track day the rest of your life. Imagine how fast Ana Carrasco is. 

I just now conceived a thought - Ducati, having SO many Teams and bikes out there, don't they have an opportunity to do something new/different re how they are perceived in structure? 

Like this perhaps? Make a PR change (not needing formality with DORNA) that both Red and Pramac are Factory rides. All 4 seats w Ducati contracts. Equal machinery. Up the Red and White public appearances together. Unify their livery to visualize it. Martin/Bastiannini/Jack (pick two) are still Factory riders in White. 

Then, "all our other bikes are our Jr Team. We share data and updates, Gresini and VR46 join our Italian marque - there is no such thing as a customer Ducati." Mostly a PR thing, also a unifying of efforts. 

Remember when Repsol was forced to add a third Factory bike for Dovisioso? Well, could Ducati pull off a step up in project via this similar but planful shift?

(Bastiannini, his trajectory has a steepened arc eh? Factory contract, Factory bike, Factory poster, and in White? Go Beast!).

In terms of machinery I think that's pretty much the case already bar the vintage of the bike. I do think that team owners would like to maintain agency and not become merely an arm of a factory organism. With varying degrees of 'support from' and not 'within' the factory. This is important for the future of the sport and also the soul of the sport. Teams, as opposed to the factories, are the line of defence set against mini grids of the past. Currently manufacturer support is at a high level. Currently....

To me it looks more likely he's going to be red next season, Italian not Japanese. Miller is off to....Aprilia, Mav is out after throwing  kittens out the pram (Aleix keeps beating him)...and no one likes animal cruelty.

I'd like to think there might be a very small chance Fabio could go blue as Suzuki seem to actually be actively making their bike better, is a similar engine configuration etc. 

Taka is going nowhere, just as long as idemitsu keeps paying the bills.