The MotoGP season is not even a third of the way through and yet the riders' market for 2019-2010 has already closed, at least as far as the factory teams are concerned. Negotiations have kicked off earlier and earlier in recent years and this can be a problem for both riders and team managers who have to base their choices on past performance.
This is the case for Suzuki, with Davide Brivio having decided to end the relationship with Andrea Iannone. The Italian manager admits this in an interview with Cycle World: “If, like it has happened, it starts at the first race of the year, you can only judge the performance looking at the previous season. This isn’t good for the riders and it’s also negative for the teams. This market doesn’t allow the riders to show their progress; the same happens with the bikes and/or the teams."
This is exactly what has happened with Iannone, following a 2017 that fell below expectations.
“We mainly based our decision on 2017 and I have to say that our bike wasn’t perfect in 2017. We made some mistakes with our technical specifications; the engine clearly could have been better."
The situation is different this year and Andrea has reached the podium on two occasions, but it's too late.
“It seems like he was never happy or comfortable on the bike. We started to think that probably this was not his bike. We needed to understand if Suzuki was a good bike for Andrea Iannone, if Iannone was a good rider for this Suzuki. But then the rider market started quickly, and it was too early for Andrea to show if it was yes or no. That’s the crazy situation we have with this market. Unfortunately, we are in the game. We have to play by the rules of the game. When the decision time arrived, it looked like a Suzuki and Iannone marriage would be difficult, so we started to think of some alternatives."
An alternative by the name of Mir, who fits with the Suzuki philosophy of taking a young Moto2 talent and developing him. They did so first with Vinales, then Rins and now Joan. A philosophy that the Japanese manufacturer has also adopted in the past.
“Kevin Schwantz was the perfect story for Suzuki, he was always a Suzuki rider, the fans love him, he was successful and won many races. I think that Suzuki wants to repeat this with Rins and Mir”.
It's hard to secure the riders, attracted by other teams. As is the case with Vinales who, having brought the GSX-RR to success, then chose to move to Yamaha.
“We learned from that. In reality, Mir’s contract is more than two years; I will call it two plus two. And Rins' contract is similar."