One of the dominant themes of the tests in Losail is the rather worrying situation in which Honda currently finds itself. Marc Marquez is not physically fit and cannot get comfortable on the 2020 bike, his brother Alex is a rookie and you can’t expect miracles. Crutchlow is also not having a particularly good final test session before the start of the season and the fact that Marquez tried out the 2019 bike today in a back-to-back with the 2020 bike is not a good sign for HRC.
Alberto Puig, who didn’t hide Honda's current problems, has intervened on the matter. There isn’t much time to solve them, but the Spaniard does not want the team to lose its way in such a delicate moment.
"We don’t know the solution to our problems - Puig said - If we knew, we would have already done it. Of course, at the moment we are not in good shape, this is clear. We are trying things from last year, but also things from two or three years ago, not only things that are one year old. As always, we are trying to improve as much as we can to try and fix a situation that at the moment does not make us happy at all. Unfortunately, we don't have much time, but we will try to the last minute. Clearly, it's a difficult situation, but it's part of our job to solve problems and we'll also do it this time"
PUIG: "I don't know if we will race with the 2019 bike or the …2021 bike"
What do you expect to find by testing parts of the bike from two or three years ago?
"What do you expect me to reply? I have already given an answer. We will try them. You’re the journalists and you must understand my answers."
But is there a real possibility that you race with the 2019 bike instead of the 2020 bike?
"We are working, trying many things, but it is certainly not the end of the world. Yes, it is true that we are also working on the 2019 bike, but I don’t know if that is the solution. I will probably be able to answer this question only after the first race weekend. But at the moment I don't know yet and I can't answer. I don't know if we will race with the 2019 bike, but we are trying many things. Maybe we will race with this year's bike or last year's bike. Maybe with the bike we thought we were going to use in 2021. Honda knows this, not me."
Is the 2020 bike worse than the previous one in your opinion?
"The bike is faster, there is no doubt. It is a fact and we have checked this through our data. But sometimes this is not enough. We have to check everything, because many times it is just a matter of finding the right combination of elements. I know that there is not much time before the race, but this is our way of working, we are always at the limit".
Puig: "Marquez is not at his best and won’t be in the Qatar GP either"
There are also Marc's physical problems to evaluate.
"Marc is a great rider. He is certainly not at his best in this period and he will not be at his best in Qatar. But we must always remember that the championship starts in Qatar, it is not where it ends."
Did his physical condition also penalize you for the bike’s development?
"Yes, Marc's physical condition is a problem. He’s not in the best physical condition, but he would like to be. This is something we already know; we knew it from the beginning, and it is something we can’t do anything about. As I said, the championship starts in Qatar and maybe he will also be in difficulty at the beginning, or at least he won’t be at 100%. But we know this, and we understand it. We know the direction he is taking, and it is better to be in this condition rather than not knowing how it will evolve. His shoulder will improve, I am sure."
It seems that the new Michelins are a problem especially for you at Honda and for Ducati. Do you think so?
"The tyres have more grip and that's usually what we all ask for. But it always depends on how your bike reacts to this grip and how much it affects the package. Maybe having too much grip can be a problem, but I think Michelin have done a great job. It is not easy to increase the grip of a tyre and make it last for the whole race and this is what they have done. We have to try to adapt, but it seems clear that this problem is greater for some bikes than for others. I think it depends on the type of engine there is on the bike. It is another aspect on which we will have to focus a lot, but there is nothing we can do about it. The manufacturer has brought us the tyre, so it is up to us to adapt."