Anyone who imagined a cheerful and smiling Marc Marquez after the first laps on Honda's 2024 prototype will be disappointed. His face is the one we have become accustomed to for some time, almost amazed at finding himself in such a disastrous situation. The only difference is a hint of a moustache and perhaps an even smaller dose of patience.
“Of course it’s quite different riding style. But in the end the problems are more or less the same. So, we need to work more. We started with one direction, and then we changed the bike a bit to my direction, not completely because it takes a lot of time, to my riding style. It became better and better, but it's a different way to ride. At the end of the day, the way you ride it to set the time is similar to what I use on the current bike and also the performance, which is everything in this sport” is his summary, not at all positive about the RC213V to come.
If Marc already had doubts about whether or not to continue his relationship with Honda, this test certainly didn't help to eliminate them. So, when asked again if his future is certain, he doesn't try to hide behind a finger.
“There is a deadline. Around India, Japan, I will decide” was the blunt answer. Then he elaborated: “I don’t inform about my future, maybe it’s not clear because sometimes it can change."
Whether it is an ultimatum to Honda is not clear, also because it would perhaps be of little use. He didn't like what he saw, at this point he can suck it up, decide to move on, or take a highly unlikely sabbatical. Will this test help him in his choice?
“It can have an influence or not, it depends - he became cryptic - The decisions or my theories I have, there is plan A, plan B and plan C, three and not two that I said before. So I have three very clear ideas, I know what would happen depending on which one I choose, it just takes time. I have only shared them with people I have the utmost trust in, there are one or two."
While he doesn't want to add anything else on this point, on the other hand he has no problem expressing all his doubts about the work of the Japanese.
“Of course I expected more, as always. It's just the first impression, they need to work. We are far. If this is the base of the bike, still we are far. Still we need to work and change many things. In a test a rider always hopes to improve, sometimes you have strange sensations but the time comes, while this morning not much has changed" was his definitive sentencing.
Not even the many new Japanese technicians in the garage gave him peace of mind
“There are a lot of new engineers who have started working on the new bike, from what I understand not for a long time. Before the next tests in Valencia there is time, even if not much, two months, we will see if they can take a step forward. An engineer who dealt with aerodynamics in Formula 1 arrived and then I talk in the garage with a technician who has a different face, they didn't introduce him to me, I think he's the new project leader, it's not very clear - he burst out laughing - We are in a period of transition".
A grey area in which it is not clear whether the storm has passed or is yet to arrive.
“You must believe in them, even if time passes and what was promised has not been done. We need to see if they succeed in order to continue to be motivated. Nothing has changed in terms of performance on the track, but there are new faces and ideas. Theory always says that we will improve, but it is practice that has to certify it and I judge the work on that basis." He couldn't be any clearer than that.