After the standard 2022 tires suffered with blistering at the pre-season test at Mandalika in February, Michelin elected to bring a stiffer tire carcass that hadn’t been used since 2018 to better cope with the extreme heat in Indonesia.
Having topped the February test, Honda was the worst affected by the carcass change as its riders battled with a severe lack of rear grip.
This culminated in Marc Marquez suffering a violent crash in warm-up on the Sunday of the race, which resulted in a concussion and the return of double vision problems that have currently ruled him out of this weekend’s Argentina GP.
Honda hasn’t blamed Michelin for Marquez’s crash, but team boss Alberto Puig did hit back at comments made by Michelin boss Piero Taramasso – who suggested Honda simply didn’t understand the tires – in an exclusive statement handed to Motorsport.com.
Ahead of this weekend’s Argentina race – which has had its Friday sessions canceled due to freight issues – Alex Marquez says what happened in Indonesia “can’t happen again” and feels Michelin’s response to the situation was only to save face.
“I think it’s something that they need to improve for the future, it’s something that cannot happen again,” Marquez, who struggled to 13th in Indonesia, said when asked by Motorsport.com if he had confidence in Michelin right now.
“To suddenly change a tire allocation, I mean we were there [in Indonesia] for three days of testing because they [Michelin] asked for three days there to try the tires. We saw it was clear the tires didn’t handle 27 laps, but for the future I think it will be interesting to not change the casing and all that and putting back a casing that for three years was not in the allocation.
“So, if the tires cannot handle 27 laps, make the race shorter or make a flag-to-flag that we saw is also really nice from the past. But to change the allocation, I think it’s not really fair.
“Not because we had a lot of problems, because maybe it will happen in another track where for us it will be incredible, fun and good, and for another factory not. So, to be fair, we have to always have the same ones and try to find another solution.
“We had some blisters in the rear, but we also had some blisters in the front in the test and they didn’t change the front [for the race]. The answer of Michelin is to just try to have a good image for them.
“But this is just business and it’s normal. Also Honda wants to have a good image, but it’s something they also need to see the problems that sometimes will happen.
“It’s not always the fault of the teams, or we’ve put a wrong [tyre] pressure, or put something strange. Also, they need to see their problems to improve. If not, it will be impossible.”
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Factory Honda counterpart Pol Espargaro branded Michelin’s tire carcass change as “unfair” on HRC at the time, while on Thursday in Argentina suggested it is not possible to blame certain parties when something goes wrong.
“I think it’s very easy to understand the situation,” Espargaro said. “The strongest on the test with the normal tires was Honda and Suzuki. And the ones struggling most [during the GP weekend] was Honda and Suzuki.
“It’s quite bad, because when I have problems on my bike I complain to Honda, to the press and nothing happens. Honda takes the blame and tries to improve. And when I struggle and I’m not good enough, Honda complains about me and Honda can fight me and nothing happens.
“It’s part of the job – sometimes you are good and sometimes not, and sometimes you take the good decisions and sometimes not. But in certain parts of this job and in certain people you cannot complain.
“It’s not bad to say ‘Ok, maybe we made a mistake, ok it was not good for you, sorry guys’. This can happen, it’s not a problem, and sometimes it’s difficult to even do that.”