Honda management can be sure of one thing ahead of 2019: it has the best rider pairing on the market with Marquez and Lorenzo. And the best bike? This is less certain, because while it's true that the RC213V is far from bad, the classification tells us that (with the exception of Crutchlow during a very strange Argentinian GP), the only man who can win with it is Marc.
A very different story to Ducati, able to dominate with both Dovizioso and Jorge. Without forgetting that other riders, such as Petrucci and Miller, have also had a chance to shine.
In fact, it is no coincidence that of the 256 points Honda currently holds in the manufacturer's championship, 221 have been scored by Marquez and remaining 35 by Cal. Compare this to Ducati, holding 233 points thanks to the combined efforts of both its factory riders.
The HRC technicians are well aware that if they want to keep pace with their Italian colleagues, headed up by Dall’Igna, they need to get their heads down. Work has already begun on the 2019 bike in fact and on Monday Marquez was on track at Misano for a test day, with three bikes in the garage: one 2018 version and two prototypes.
The Spaniard also tested a "black" bike (with carbon fairing and no graphics) at Barcelona and Brno but maintained that the bike was simply a laboratory RC213V with a few new components for the current season.
Monday's test was different to usual though, the first clue being that Pedrosa was not present. Dani will leave the team at the end of the year and may move to KTM as a test rider, so it's only logical that Honda would not want him testing anything new before heading over to the competition.
the second clue is that Bradl, Honda test rider, remained at Misano on Tuesday but did not test the "black" bikes. So very probably, these were two prototypes, the technicians needed them to obtain useful information in order to prepare the 2019 bike.
There is of course still time - at Valencia after the final GP and then at Jerez - for Marquez and Lorenzo to test the new parts, before work on the bike continues over the winter.
There will be a lot of interest in those tests, also because Jorge has a very different riding style to Marquez and only time will tell how easily he adapts to the Honda and the Honda to him. The Majorcan, as well as his speed, brings something to HRC that Marc cannot offer: experience on the Yamaha and the Ducati, its main competitors. Jorge may be able to make a difference in terms of development, but in the meantime the engineers in Tokyo are moving forward with the work.