Marc Marquez has signed an almost unprecedented new contract extension with HRC, which will see him remain in the factory Honda team for four more years after his current contract expires at the end of the 2020 season. That means Marquez will be a factory Honda rider until the end of 2024.
Marquez' contract renewal had been widely anticipated, although the length of it is unexpected. It is a sign of the commitment of Marquez and Honda to each other, and a clear indication of the reigning world champion's objectives and intentions. Marquez races to win, individual races, but especially titles. He clearly sees Honda as his best bet for achieving that.
There are good reasons for Marquez to stay at Honda. The Spaniard drives and controls the development of the Honda RC213V, demanding a bike that will do the things he needs to win. The control he has is unprecedented, Honda breaking their normal cycle of rotating engineers in and out of HRC on a regular basis. Marquez has been able to ask for engineers to stay inside HRC beyond their normal period.
It is also a sign that HRC are all in on Marc Marquez. Their strategy for success is simply to give Marquez what he asks for, and trust him to deliver. It is a strategy history has proven to be correct: since his arrival in 2013, Marquez has won the title for Honda in six of his seven seasons. He starts the 2020 season as strong favorite, despite coming off his second shoulder surgery in two years.
Marquez' signing also closes a door for other factories, most notably Ducati. The shortcut to championships - signing Marc Marquez - is no longer available, and so the other factories must look for the Next Big Thing, the young rider who might be able to take the fight to the champion. Yamaha have already shown the way in this with their signing of Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo to the factory team in 2021. Expect other factories to follow similar paths.
Marquez' deal is unique for its length. Whereas most contracts for MotoGP riders are two years at most, none have been publicly announced as being for four seasons.
That does not mean that riders have not signed what are effectively four-year deals before: paddock rumor had it that Brad Binder had signed a contract with KTM which was effectively two-plus-two, two years in Moto2, followed by two years in MotoGP. But these deals are surrounded by various conditions: in the end, Binder spent three years in Moto2, only moving up to MotoGP this year.
After the loss of Maverick Viñales, Suzuki are also believed to be signing contracts which more closely resemble four-year deals. Joan Mir ostensibly signed a two-year contract with Suzuki, but it is rumored that the contracts contains clauses which allow Suzuki to extend the contract, making it harder for Mir to simply leave at the end of his two-year deal.
The Honda press release appears below:
HRC renew with Marc Marquez through to the end of 2024
Honda Racing Corporation are delighted to announce six-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez has signed a four-year extension of his contract and will continue to race with the factory team until at least December 2024. So far, Marc Marquez has claimed 56 victories, 95 podiums and 62 pole positions with his RC213V in the premier class. These results have established him as the most dominant Honda rider in the premier class.
“We are happy to announce that, after the end of the current season, Marc will stay in the Honda family for four more years. We started talking a few months ago, as both parties wanted to stay together and continue winning. Marc started his career in the premier class in 2013 and with him we have won six of the last seven MotoGP titles. As a unique champion, he deserves a unique deal. I am very confident in this partnership and I wish everyone involved continued success."
Marc Marquez 93
Rider – MotoGP
“I am very proud to announce my renewal with Honda Racing Corporation for the next four years. Honda gave me the opportunity to arrive in the MotoGP class with a factory bike in 2013. Since the first year we have achieved success together and I am very happy to continue being part of the Honda family. HRC gives me the confidence to extend this partnership to obtain our common goal and continue our story of success.”