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The signs suggesting Marquez is considering a Honda MotoGP contract break

Marc Marquez’s future at Honda will be the biggest focus point on the MotoGP rider market, with the decision having monumental consequences across the entire grid. While the six-time premier class world champion has stuck to his script, cracks are starting to appear even before next week’s pivotal Misano test

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Although Marc Marquez insists time and again that he has a contract with Honda until 2024, several indications suggest that he is considering an exit that the Japanese manufacturer is trying to avoid with a recruitment plan that was launched in Austria.

Marquez has been very careful with his words for months so that no one can accuse him of being a liar in the future. In recent weeks, the question he has been asked most often in his media appearances has been: "Will you still be riding a Honda next year?" Same question, same answer. "I have a contract," replies the Spaniard, who is thinking about an irrefutable fact: his agreement with Honda expires at the end of 2024, although that doesn't necessarily mean that he will fulfil it.

HRC president Koji Watanabe has stated that if Marquez expresses his intention to break the deal a year earlier than agreed, he will not be prevented from doing so: "Obviously, we would like him to continue. But, in the end, it's up to him to decide. If he wants to leave, we will not hold him back."

Honda is evidently afraid that the cornerstone of its MotoGP project, winner of six of the seven titles that were up for grabs between 2013 and 2019, will leave under the current circumstances: with a bike in decline that, race after race, struggles at the bottom of the field.

The new order established by the European factories, led by Ducati, has caused the gap between them and the Japanese (Honda and Yamaha) to grow exponentially this season. These differences, combined with the arrogance of HRC - entrenched in a working methodology that has become obsolete - have resulted in Marquez's weariness.

He has long pointed to the test after the San Marino Grand Prix, which takes place next week, as the key date that will mark where his future lies.

Marquez has long insisted he wishes to evaluate Honda's 2024 bike at the Misano test before making a call on his future

Marquez has long insisted he wishes to evaluate Honda's 2024 bike at the Misano test before making a call on his future

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Next Monday, Honda will put on track the first version of the RC213 it has planned for 2024. However, the crux of the matter is no longer about the bike that will be unveiled at Misano, because the most widespread feeling inside the garage itself is one of total scepticism: nobody thinks it will be the change of concept that all the Honda riders, without exception, have been demanding for so long.

Motorsport.com understands that HRC already knows that Marquez's condition for staying is the recruitment of technical staff specialising in key areas of the bike. In other words, those engineers - many of them European - who have enabled Ducati, Aprilia and KTM to make a giant qualitative leap forward.

Gigi Dall'Igna's name has even come up as a target in these talks, however difficult it may be for the 'father' of the current generation of Desmosedici to leave the Bologna-based manufacturer. KTM, for example, brought in Fabiano Sterlacchini, then Dall'Igna's right-hand man at Ducati, a couple of years ago.

Logic suggests that Marquez is preparing the ground to have an alternative to Honda within his grasp for 2024, whether he finally decides to leave or not

Massimo Rivola, Aprilia's CEO, arrived from Formula 1 with several reinforcements, and most of Suzuki's performance engineers, mostly Italian, were absorbed by KTM once the Hamamatsu-based company's departure from the championship was confirmed.

Honda's team manager Alberto Puig is currently on the lookout for a replacement after being given the go-ahead by management. In recent races, the former rider has met regularly with several of Honda's most influential managers, trying to convince them of the need to go fishing in other teams, and thus try to retain Marquez.

All this has been under the supervision of Watanabe (HRC), who was in Barcelona during last weekend's grand prix. Shinji Aoyama, the second highest-ranking executive at Honda Motor, was at Mugello. At Silverstone, Puig met with Hikaru Tsukamoto, head of the two-wheel division, who was also in Austria. It was there, at the Red Bull Ring, where Tsukamoto gave the green light to look at the engineering market.

Puig has been tasked by Honda to meet Marquez's demands over bringing in new engineers

Puig has been tasked by Honda to meet Marquez's demands over bringing in new engineers

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

It is worth noting that this change in Honda's approach was accelerated after Marquez decided not to ride the bike at the Sachsenring on Sunday, having accumulated five crashes in two and a half days of running. At this point, the problem is that Puig has little room for manoeuvre, both because of the advanced stage of the season and the difficulty of convincing his targets.

All things considered, logic suggests that Marquez is preparing the ground to have an alternative to Honda within his grasp for 2024, whether he finally decides to leave or not. Most indications point to one garage: Gresini's.

Regardless of the fact that Marquez's brother Alex rides there, it is very unusual that a Ducati, one of the most coveted bikes in the paddock, still has no owner. Even more so if we think that both the arrival of Franco Morbidelli at Pramac, and the renewal of Luca Marini by VR46, are practically a fact confirmed by all parties.

On the other hand, the bike currently ridden by Fabio di Giannantonio has been denied to everyone who has asked for it: Jake Dixon and Tony Arbolino, who have renewed their Moto2 contracts with Aspar and Marc VDS respectively. And it seems that 'Digia' will not be back either, as he is in advanced talks with Fantic to move down to the intermediate class.

To all of the above, we must also add the resounding silence of Gresini's managers - who are keeping their mouths shut - and the most conclusive thing: the concern at Ducati, who is beginning to consider it a real possibility that Marquez will land at the Faenza team on one of their bikes.

"With Gresini, it's up to the team to decide who to sign. We, of course, can make suggestions. But that's all," warns Paolo Ciabatti, General Manager of the Borgo Panigale brand. There, they are aware of the turmoil that Marquez's arrival could cause in the 'status quo' of their riders, currently in total harmony.

Could the Marquez brothers be partnering up again?

Could the Marquez brothers be partnering up again?

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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