Marquez fought to the final lap with Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia in last Sunday’s Aragon GP, but ultimately came up second-best to the Italian in a thrilling scrap.
The anticlockwise nature of Aragon negated the limitations Marquez still currently has with the right side of his body, while also allowing him to ride around the 2021 Honda’s deficiencies.
While Marquez and Honda are still a long way off from their 100% potential, there have been many who have agreed that the Japanese manufacturer’s poor performance is a direct consequence of its own philosophy – which concentrates most of its resources and attention on Marquez, without taking into account the needs of the other riders of the brand.
For Puig, what happened with the #93 will not make Honda move a single millimetre away from the approach that led Honda to six titles in seven years with the Spaniard.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, Alberto Puig, Repsol Honda Team Team Principal race
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“Our philosophy won’t change in any way because Marc has been in pain for a year and a half,” Puig told Autosport at Aragon.
“He’s not just another rider. He’s not just the best Honda rider, he’s the best in the world.
“We have a long contract (until 2024), and we will do everything we can to give him the bike he deserves. Obviously Pol [Espargaro] is also very important, but Marc’s track record is what it is.”
The numbers are the main argument of those who defend that Honda is wrong to put all its eggs in the same basket.
In the 15 grands prix that Marquez missed while recovering from the broken right arm he suffered in last year’s Spanish GP, Honda scored just two podium finishes, both second places for Alex Marquez, at Le Mans and Aragon.
Since his return at Portimao, the Marquez has already equalled those two podiums from 2021 by winning at Sachsenring and finishing second last Sunday at Motorland – though has registered the most crashes of any rider this season with 18.
Despite missing the first two races, Marquez is the best placed of the Honda riders.
He is tenth in the overall standings with 79 points. Next is Takaaki Nakagami in 13th with 64 points. Pol Espargaro is 14th on 55 points and Alex Marquez 15th 49 points.
If HRC, through Puig, does not intend to change its strategy, it is based on a belief: the conviction that its flagship rider will once again be in a position to impose its dominance.
And that belief stems from a feeling that has been more than proven: “Do you know why I have no doubt that Marc will be back to his old self? Because he hasn’t become afraid”, Puig reflects.
“Because he stopped for a long time and when he ran again he fell again going very fast. But he got up and went even faster again.
“In a racing driver, fear is what makes the difference between those who are ahead and those who are not; those who, after hurting themselves on the first day, are eight tenths of a second behind the first, then one second behind, then two seconds behind and then they go home.”