Honda hasn't assimilated the new Michelins very well and, as much as Marquez has chosen a fairly calm approach to the problem, Cal Crutchlow was the one who cleared up how complex the situation is for HRC right now. The British rider closed the first day of testing with a 19th position, without ever getting close to the best. His teammate, Nakagami, also closed out of the top ten and, considering that Alex Marquez is a rookie, it's normal that he ended up further behind in the standings.
So, only Marc Marquez managed to be incisive, despite not being in perfect physical condition. This situation started to worry Crutchlow, who hoped to have a more competitive and, above all, easier RCV in his hands earlier this season.
"Whenever we talk about tests, it always seems like the times lie," Crutchlow commented. "But, actually, every time we get on the bike, we try to go as fast as we can. Have we been as fast as we could? Of course we can improve the bike, we can improve my confidence, and take steps forward. We'll continue to work, and I know that we're providing Honda with all the information it needs to improve the bike. We have weaknesses."
What are the problems and how do you plan to solve them?
"I know we have a lot of work to do, even if I don't have bad sensations. I just thought I could be faster but, right now, the way I ride this bike is almost amateurish. You have to do everything slowly, you can't force it for now. It's rather strange because it becomes difficult every time. It happens when you enter corners, and also when you give gas in exiting corners. This is a big problem for me right now. I feel that the frame works well with the new tires, and I feel strong in acceleration, but I also know that I have weaknesses in other situations, like when braking and in straights. Only by solving these problems can we get back up to speed."
You were not happy even at the beginning of 2019, but then you did really well in Losail.
"Yes, we had problems in the tests even in 2019, but then Marc and I closed the race on the podium. I don't think we'll be able to take such a big step this year. It's as if it were easy for me to be constant on this bike, but constantly slow. Maybe I could have pushed more, but I never felt the right sensations on the bike. The first day is always more difficult for the Honda riders than for the others. We'll work on it tonight, and I know that tomorrow we'll be stronger."
Did you find different problems in Losail compared to Sepang?
"I had more or less the same problems I had in Malaysia, but the difference is that there are a lot of really fast corners here. This is the real problem with our bike now, and it wasn't in Sepang. It's more like a stop & go circuit. It's different here. Maybe it's also what we needed, to bring out the bike's problems even more and try to solve them. I had also suffered with the tests here in 2019, but I was then able to get on the podium for the race, so I'm not pessimistic. I didn't even have a bad pace. I'm not fast enough on the flying lap."
Are all these problems solvable?
"It only takes a lot of work. I feel that the problem is actually only one, but I think it will be very difficult to solve it in time. Not impossible, but very difficult. I know I'm not the only Honda rider to have this problem. We need to take a step forward as a manufacturer and as a team. I'm worried. Usually on circuits with very fast corners, I've always gone fast. I'm a little worried about the season."
Is there at least one aspect where this bike looks better than in 2019?
"I think that, at the moment, our bike is really better only when exiting corners, but the problem is that all the other bikes have improved thanks to the tires at this stage."