The six-time world champion ended Friday’s running for the first grand prix of the 2022 season second overall behind the Suzuki of Alex Rins.
Honda has radically overhauled its RC213V for the new season after several years of problems with rear traction, with Marquez admitting on Thursday that the changes are so drastic that it felt like he was riding for “another brand”.
The new bike is more rear-biased to cure the traction issues, but this has meant Marquez has struggled to get to grips with the front feeling of the new bike – which has typically been his strong point.
Asked if Friday went as he expected it to, Marquez said: “A little bit yes, a little bit no. Of course, in race pace I expected something similar, in a single lap it was better than I expected.
“Maybe second position is not my pace on the race pace, but overall it was better than I expected because the target was to try to be in the top 10 to go straight to QP2.
“I don’t think tomorrow morning we will improve the lap times, but anyway happy how we are riding.
“Still I’m riding in a strange way, but the lap time is coming.”
Explaining how the bike feels strange, Marquez says he feels like he is doing slower laps than he is – but when he pushes right now he isn’t going quicker.
“Riding style concept, I’m not pushing a lot on the entry,” he explained.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“Before I was very fast on the entry, now I’m not very fast. But also I don’t feel the front, I feel strange, I don’t feel the front, still I don’t understand where the front is.
“Honestly, I feel a slower lap time is coming. This is good, but if you try to be faster you are slower.
“It’s a bit strange, still I don’t find the potential to use all the potential of the bike, or the way to use the potential.
“Honda did an amazing job and I’m very thankful. I think the only brand that can change so much from one year to the next is Honda.
“Still, I need to understand the way to set-up [the bike]. Today I didn’t touch the bike, I rode with the Mandalika set-up because still we don’t understand.
“Lap by lap I’m faster and faster, and then tomorrow we will start to play a bit.
“But saying that, on this track we are not the fastest one. [It] looks like Yamaha and Suzuki bikes, that have a different engine, are more consistent and faster than us.”
Marquez also noted that Friday in Qatar was the first time there was “no physical condition that was stopping me” and experienced no issues with his right shoulder.