How Marquez's absence changes the Qatar MotoGP dynamic

Marc Marquez's decision to miss the first two races of the 2021 MotoGP season shows an evolution in his approach to racing. His decision also has implications for the rest of his Honda team and members of the grid.

How Marquez's absence changes the Qatar MotoGP dynamic

The statement released by HRC at midday on Monday came as a surprise to the majority of the paddock, who, after the Spaniard's last two tests at both Montmelo and the Algarve in Portugal, had taken his participation in the opening race of the season at Losail this coming weekend for granted.

Joan Mir, the reigning world champion, met Marquez last week in the gym at the hotel in Qatar, where the Catalan had travelled to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine being offered to the MotoGP paddock by the Qatari authorities.

PLUS: What Marquez will we get on his much-needed return?

There he saw him rowing without any reservations, which led him to be convinced of the imminent reappearance of the #93. "I saw him well, for sure he will race," agreed the Mallorcan on Motorsport.com's 'Por Orejas' Spanish language podcast.

Fabio Quartararo and Valentino Rossi, to name but two of those who bet that the Honda rider would be on the grid this Sunday, were in the same vein.

However, neither of them - or us - had access to the medical examinations being carried out on him, and Marquez opted for the less risky route, in a decision that carries certain interesting aspects that should not be overlooked.

First of all, no one doubts that this Marquez is different to the one before the ordeal he has been through over the last eight months recovering from the right arm he broke in last year’s Spanish GP.

It seems almost a no-brainer to think that, in the same circumstances he is in now, 'the old Marc' would have decided to race at Losail. However, back then he had not gone through the hell from which he is now about to emerge.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

At the Andalusian GP last year, Marquez opted to get back on the bike just four days after undergoing his first humerus operation - because the doctors did not know how to stop him, he said afterwards.

The ordeal he went through last year has led him to follow to the letter the recommendations of the doctors who last operated on him in December. They are now asking him to be patient so that the bone can heal properly, and he obeys. It will be interesting to see if this change of look or approach has an impact on other riders suffering injuries of a similar severity, requiring surgery and, consequently, a period of rest.

Franco Morbidelli is probably one of the most far-sighted riders in MotoGP today. Asked a few weeks ago about the impact on Marquez of the injury he is recovering from, the Italian made a very interesting reflection: "Marc's had one of the most serious injuries we have seen in an athlete.

The rest of the teams and riders will also be influenced in some way by the absence of the multi-champion, who now indirectly puts the ball in their court

“There haven't been many top-level sportsmen who have missed a whole year.

“If I put myself in his shoes, I can't judge the pain he went through, but I can judge what he had to go through mentally.

“An episode like that has repercussions in the head, because people remember bad moments and try not to repeat them, even if it's unconsciously.”

Although the Petronas SRT rider was making direct reference to the type of 'animal' he will see on the RC213V, the decision to postpone his return suggests that Marquez has learnt from the rash mistake he made, and that it threw him into a hole he does not intend to fall into again.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

Despite the fact that he is feeling good physically and getting stronger and stronger muscularly, it will be the doctors who will authorise him to compete; something which, at the earliest, will be in Portugal, at the third stop on the calendar on 18 April, after the check-up he must undergo on the previous Monday.

This absence will affect more than just HRC, who will once again have to rely on test rider Stefan Bradl.

Read Also:

The rest of the teams and riders will also be influenced in some way by the absence of the multi-champion, who now indirectly puts the ball in their court.

It will be up to them to take advantage of those two non-scores that, at least, will be in the Lleida rider’s locker at the end of the season. If we take into account the tremendous equality that reigned in the last championship, which was decided by 13 points in favour of Mir, starting from a disadvantage of 50 points should be practically decisive for anyone aspiring to be win the title.

The fact is that Marquez is not just anyone, as has been demonstrated throughout his career, so no one should make the mistake of eliminating him from title contention.

Especially if we take into account that the degree of pressure he will have to bear will be inversely proportional to that of his opponents, obliged to make the most of the temporary downturn of the great dominator of the last decade: six titles out of a possible eight, adorned with myriad records.

If, after all, he were to win his seventh MotoGP crown this year, it would undoubtedly expose his fellow riders irreparably.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

As he himself pointed out in an analysis of the last championship, it is not the same to chase as to be chased.

Much less so when the one coming from behind is someone as voracious as Marquez, a tiger who will have been 'caged' for 10 months when he returns to racing. The worst of threats for his rivals; the best of news for the fans.

shares
comments
Why MotoGP's returning king can make or break Mir's 2020 legacy

Previous article

Why MotoGP's returning king can make or break Mir's 2020 legacy

Next article

Morbidelli carrying “a great weight” as a MotoGP title contender

Morbidelli carrying “a great weight” as a MotoGP title contender
Load comments

About this article

Series MotoGP
Drivers Marc Marquez
Author Oriol Puigdemont
Where does Honda's new MotoGP signing sit ahead of its king's return? Plus

Where does Honda's new MotoGP signing sit ahead of its king's return?

Pol Espargaro’s first results as a Honda MotoGP rider may not appear special. But dig a little deeper and a clearer picture of his performance emerges. And, as Lewis Duncan writes, it’s cause for celebration at Honda with the return of Marc Marquez set to provide Espargaro with the reference he has been missing so far this year

MotoGP
Apr 12, 2021
The "pit bull" MotoGP rookie already drawing legendary comparisons Plus

The "pit bull" MotoGP rookie already drawing legendary comparisons

MotoGP’s 2021 rookie crop is one of the strongest in recent years, but one is already standing out. Jorge Martin’s Doha GP heroics have courted many to compare him to numerous MotoGP legends. Autosport spoke to Pramac boss Francesco Guidotti to find out why MotoGP’s latest Spanish star is already making such an impact

MotoGP
Apr 9, 2021
Why MotoGP's stewards must revisit Miller and Mir's Losail clash Plus

Why MotoGP's stewards must revisit Miller and Mir's Losail clash

Despite Suzuki’s decision not to appeal against Race Direction’s refusal to penalise Jack Miller following the incident with Joan Mir in Losail, something must be done to avoid a repeat of such an incident, which could have easily ended in tragedy

MotoGP
Apr 6, 2021
Has Yamaha banished its demons with its 2021 MotoGP bike? Plus

Has Yamaha banished its demons with its 2021 MotoGP bike?

Against the expected run of play at Qatar's Losail circuit, both Yamaha riders Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo carved through a resolute Ducati defence to secure back-to-back MotoGP wins for the Japanese marque. After a difficult 2020, it appears that Yamaha has swaggered back into championship contention

MotoGP
Apr 5, 2021
Why MotoGP’s top gun looks more dangerous at the Doha GP Plus

Why MotoGP’s top gun looks more dangerous at the Doha GP

Lightning hasn't struck twice for Maverick Vinales since 2017 and his wayward form of recent years makes predicting how he'll fare each MotoGP race weekend tricky. But fresh from his Qatar GP win, Vinales looks like an even more dangerous prospect for the Doha GP following an intriguing Friday practice

MotoGP
Apr 3, 2021
Why MotoGP’s new Amazon series is long overdue Plus

Why MotoGP’s new Amazon series is long overdue

OPINION: MotoGP is getting its own version of Drive to Survive on Amazon Prime at some point in the near future. It was news welcomed by the grid’s leading riders. And following the impact DTS has had on Formula 1, MotoGP desperately needs the same boost.

MotoGP
Mar 31, 2021
Did the Qatar GP hint at Ducati’s true MotoGP leader? Plus

Did the Qatar GP hint at Ducati’s true MotoGP leader?

OPINION: Johann Zarco talked a big game pre-season, and is so far vindicating himself as a factory rider at Pramac after finishing the Qatar GP as top Ducati in second. And contrasting his and Jack Miller's weekends and their approaches, is Zarco emerging as Ducati's true MotoGP leader?

MotoGP
Mar 30, 2021
The key changes behind the latest 'return of the Mack' Plus

The key changes behind the latest 'return of the Mack'

Maverick Vinales’s authoritative victory at the MotoGP season opener came during a period of personal and professional change for the Yamaha rider. Can it be the springboard for a title challenge?

MotoGP
Mar 29, 2021