MotoGP: 2022 Silly Season has begun!
The 2021 MotoGP season has only just completed six races, but the 2022 grid is already being discussed. This is a speculated/confirmed 2022 grid.
The Factory Honda Team has a confirmed lineup for next season, their riders for the 2022 season are: Marc Marquez (Contract ends 2024) and Pol Espargaro (Contract ends 2022). However, the 2022 lineup could be debated over Marc Marquez's fitness.
The future of the eight time World Champion is still unknown after his injury he picked up in 2020, it was revealed by Marc today that he is still taking antibiotics for the recovery on his arm. If Marc is no longer able to compete in MotoGP because of his injury Repsol Honda will need to find a new leader for their MotoGP project. However, it is likely Marc will be there in 2022 and will be furthering his recovery after his reintroduction in 2021.
On the other side of the garage is Pol Espargaro, who has not had the best start to life at Honda. After jumping ship from KTM at the end of the 2020 season Pol was hoping to find his first illusive MotoGP race win, but this has not occurred, if anything he has gone backwards. Espargaro is currently sat 11th in the World Championship with his best result being 8th place. Honda did dump off a Repsol rider down to the LCR Honda team at the end of 2020, who is to say that Repsol will not do the same at the end of 2021 if a rider becomes available that they like the look of. This may not happen as Pol has showed promise on the RC213V so he may be able find something throughout the rest of the 2021 season. Even if he doesn't find results I believe Pol will be in the Repsol Honda Team for 2022 due to the money that Repsol paid to get him into their team.
Monster Energy Yamaha:
The Factory Yamaha Team have a confirmed lineup for 2022, this lineup for next season is: Maverick Vinales (Contract ends 2022) and Fabio Quartararo (Contract ends 2022).
Maverick Vinales seems safe for the 2022 season, even though he is very inconsistent. I believe he will be safe as Yamaha have never been very ruthless in terms of dropping a rider in the middle of their contract. Maverick is a proven race winner, but he cannot always make his M1 Yamaha work. The most recent new from Mavericks side of the camp is that he has a new crew chief for the Catalan Grand Prix, this new crew chief is Rossi's ex-crew chief, Silvano Galbusera. Vinales will need to buck up his ideas in 2022 if he wants to keep his seat for 2023, but that is another story.
Fabio Quartararo is guaranteed a ride for 2022 no questions asked. This is because Fabio has finished on the podium 4 times out of 6, with 3 wins out of six. Fabio currently also leads the 2021 MotoGP World Championship. If he continues like this in the 2022 season I could see him signing a long term contract again which could see him at Yamaha until 2024 or 2025.
The Factory Ducati Team also has a confirmed lineup for 2022, this lineup for next season is: Jack Miller (Contract extended for 2022) and Francesco Bagnaia (Contract ends 2022).
The Australian rider, Jack Miller, originally only had a contract until the end of the 2021 season, but due to his performance in the 2021 season where he took 2 race wins in the first 6 races. Miller extended his contract with Ducati for the 2022 season. Miller looks very strong on the Factory Ducati and looks at home in the team. Whether Jack can copy the success of Casey Stoner at Ducati is yet to be seen, but all signs point to there being a possibility of this.
The Italian rider, Francesco Bagnaia, has a contract until the end of the 2022 season as well. With Pecco taking 3 podiums in 6 races throughout the 2021 season so far it shows that Pecco has also taken to the Ducati Factory Team like a duck to water. Bagnaia now sits third in the World Championship and if he can continue his form throughout 2021 and into 2022 it is also likely that we will see Bagnaia in Factory red from after 2022.
Suzuki Ecstar Team:
The Suzuki Ecstar Team have also got their lineup sorted for the 2022 season as well, much like the other Factory teams. Their riders are: Joan Mir (Contract ends 2022) and Alex Rins (Contract ends 2022).
Joan Mir is the reigning MotoGP World Champion and he has started 2021 with 2 podiums in 6 races. He is currently sat in 5th place in the Championship. If Mir can continue his success in MotoGP then Suzuki will most likely hold onto Mir in the long run and develop their GSX-RR around Mir.
Alex Rins being signed on for 2022 and a portrayed Championship favourite he should of started 2021 off with a blast. However, Alex Rins is currently sat in 13th place in the World Championship after 3 DNF's in the 2021 season and a further crash in Le Mans. If Rins continues this then he will be likely to be dropped for the 2023 season, but again that is another story.
Red Bull KTM:
Red Bull KTM are the first team who have one rider who is not signed on for the 2022 season of the time of writing. They do have one rider newly signed on. This current rider is Brad Binder (Contract ends 2024).
Brad Binder has just signed on with the KTM Factory Team for the 2022 season and further. This is good for the KTM Factory Team and Brad Binder as he is a proven MotoGP race winner who has bags of potential. With these new years added on to Brad's time with KTM he is most likely going to have a morale boost for the upcoming part of the 2021 season.
The other rider who has a contract which runs out at the end of the 2021 season is the Portuguese two time MotoGP race winner, Miguel Oliveira. Miguel had a poor start to the 2021 season as he did not get a top 10 finish until the sixth round, which is the round where he took his first podium of the season. However, this does mean Miguel is now 10th in the Championship. KTM are most likely going to sign Miguel on for the future in the near future, how long for though is the question.
Aprilia are another team which have one rider signed on for the 2022 season and one rider who does not have a certain future with the team. The rider signed on for 2022 is: Aleix Espargaro (Contract ends 2022).
Aleix Espargaro has raced with Aprilia since the 2017 season and has been the only long run rider that they have had in the modern era of MotoGP. Espargaro is currently sat 7th in the World Championship with a best result of 6th place. Aleix is most likely going to be at Aprilia for the long run.
The other current Aprilia rider is Lorenzo Savadori. The Italian is currently 24th in the World Championship with 3 points after 6 races. I personally do not believe that Lorenzo will be with Aprilia in 2022, this is because of a rider that is waiting in the wings.
This rider is MotoGP runner up, Andrea Dovizioso, who is currently the Aprilia Test Rider. I believe if Dovizioso believes that the Aprilia is improving then he will race the bike in the 2022 season. Another rider that Aprilia will be looking at for the 2022 is apparently Moto2 rider, Joe Roberts. Aprilia have had their eye on Joe since the end of the 2020 season and will most likely return to him if Dovizioso turns down the bike.
Petronas Yamaha Sepang Team:
The Petronas Yamaha Team have a rider agreed to race with them in 2022 and another rider who is most likely going to leave. The rider they have is: Franco Morbidelli (Contract ends 2022).
Franco Morbidelli was the top Yamaha in 2020 as he finished 2nd in the World Championship, he is currently sat 9th in the World Championship with 1 podium to his name. Franco has been very outspoken about how Yamaha did not give him a 2021 Yamaha, but instead gave him his 2019 Yamaha. But for the 2022 season Morbidelli has been promised a Factory bike with Petronas. So hopefully he will be winning races once again.
The other rider in the Petronas Yamaha Team is Valentino Rossi and his contract runs out at the end of 2021. Rossi is a nine time World Champion who is sat in 19th place in the World Championship, with a best result of 10th place. If Valentino does retire or leaves the team at the end of the 2021 season Yamaha will need a replacement.
The replacement for Rossi is a hard one to predict due to Yamaha's unnatural recruitment over the recent years, such as recruiting Fabio Quartararo who seemed to be weird at the time but is now successful. The riders that I believe will be on Yamaha's radar will be the following set: Garrett Gerloff, the American sensation has found his feet in World Superbike with GRT Yamaha. He did two practice sessions in place of Rossi last season and was rather impressive at Valencia, a track he has never been to. Yamaha may want to promote Gerloff to their MotoGP squads. Xavi Vierge is currently contracted with Petronas in their Moto2 squad and he is 11th in the World Championship, if he finds further form in Moto2 then Petronas may want him in MotoGP. The last rider could be Sam Lowes, the British rider is 4th in the Moto2 World Championship with 3 podiums and 2 wins in the first 6 races. If Sam challenges for the title who is to say the Petronas will not take a gamble on him.
Tech 3 KTM:
Tech 3 have just announced a new arrival into their MotoGP efforts for the 2022 season, this is Remy Gardner. The two riders that Tech 3 currently have for the 2021 season are Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona, and both of their contracts run out at the end of the 2021 season.
Remy Gardner currently leads the 2021 Moto2 Championship with 5 podiums and 1 race win. Tech 3 have decided to sign Gardner early to their MotoGP squad so his talent could not be poached by other MotoGP teams in the near future. I believe Gardner will make a good match with the MotoGP bike and could go on to do good things.
I do not believe that Petrucci or Lecuona will race in MotoGP in 2022, this is due to the youth that is coming through the Moto2 talent pool. I believe Lecuona will return to Moto2 and Petrucci will go to World Superbikes.
I believe the second Tech 3 MotoGP rider will be Raul Fernandez, he is currently 2nd in the Moto2 World Championship with 4 podiums and 2 race wins. KTM want to keep Gardner and Fernandez under their KTM umbrella so signing them up for MotoGP in 2022 will be the best way to do this.
LCR Honda have one rider officially signed on for the 2022 season: this is Alex Marquez (Contract end 2022). Their other rider, Takaaki Nakagami, does not have an official 2022 contract but signed a contract that runs for the 2021 season 'and beyond'.
Alex Marquez has had a bad start to 2021 as he sits 15th in the World Championship with a best result of 6th place. Alex will continue with Honda in 2022 but after that it is unknown whether he will stay with HRC.
The Japanese rider, Takaaki Nakagami, is 12th in the Championship with a best result of 4th. The Japanese rider will most likely stay with LCR and HRC after the 2021 season. This is due to Honda wanting a Japanese rider in MotoGP and due to the fact that when Taka is given a rideable Honda he can perform.
Both current Pramac Ducati riders have been resigned with the Pramac Ducati Team for the 2022 season. These riders are: Johann Zarco (Ducati contract ends 2022) and Jorge Martin (Ducati contract ends 2022).
Johann Zarco is 2nd in the MotoGP World Championship with 3 podiums. It is no surprise that Pramac would want to keep Ducati on their books for the 2022 season. The Frenchman is on the form of his career and if he keeps this up he will keep the rights to a full Factory spec Ducati.
Jorge Martin suffered an injury in his rookie season, so he has missed four races this season, Martin has 1 podium in the 2 races he took part in. He is making his return at the Catalan Grand Prix however. Jorge is currently 17th in the Championship, but that will improve once he is fully fit again.
VR46 Racing Team:
The VR46 Racing Team has no confirmed rider for the 2022 season. But I have strong reason to believe between three riders.
The first rider is current SKY VR46 Ducati rider, Luca Marini. Marini is part of the VR46 Riders Academy and is the half-brother of Valentino Rossi. Luca is currently 22nd in the World Championship with a best result of twelfth. However, Luca did finish runner up in Moto2 in the 2020 season so he has the talent to make it in MotoGP, it is just a matter of time for him to adapt.
The second rider is current SKY VR46 Moto2 Team rider, Marco Bezzecchi. Bez is third in the Moto2 World Championship with a best result of 2nd place. Marco is likely to make the step up to MotoGP for the team he races for in Moto2. If he continues his form in Moto2 then he will get the reward from his boss and will make the step up to MotoGP.
The third rider is VR46 himself. Valentino Rossi may want to move to his team if he does not keep his seat with Petronas. The only other team that I could see Valentino moving to is to the VR46 Team where he will be welcomed because it is his own team. During the 2022 season he could mentor his brother more.
Gresini Racing Team:
The Gresini Team is entering back into MotoGP as their own MotoGP satelite team. It is looking likely that they will race with Ducati bikes. I believe their are two riders who are very likely to race for Gresini in 2022.
The first rider is current Avintia Ducati rider, Enea Bastianini. Enea is currently 16th in the MotoGP Championship, with a best result of 9th place. Bastianini is a current Ducati rider and would be most likely to stay with Ducati with Gresini in 2022.
The second rider is the Italian Gresini racer in Moto2, Fabio Di Giannantonio. The Gresini rider is 5th in the Moto2 World Championship he has 2 podiums and a race win this season for Gresini. He was promised a ride in MotoGP by Gresini for the 2022 season on a competitive bike, such as the Ducati.
Any rider that is not contracted to a team is all speculation on my part.