Honda MotoGP team manager Alberto Puig has dropped the strongest hit yet by far that the manufacturer could let Marc Marquez walk away before the end of his contract.
Marquez, who withdrew from the Dutch TT at Assen on Sunday morning, is having a miserable season on the Honda RC213V.
The 30-year-old had signed a four-year deal with Honda – with which he’s won six MotoGP titles – coming into 2020, but his bad injury at the start of 2020 took him out of any possible championship contention for three seasons.
And now that Marquez feels he’s back to proper fitness overall – not counting the plethora of shorter-term injuries that he’s suffered in 2023 – he no longer sees the current Honda as capable of propelling him to a title challenge.
Puig, who has been very complimentary of Marquez’s efforts throughout 2023, has not shied away from acknowledging that “the situation is really not good at all” for Honda.
But when asked whether he was confident Marquez would at least see out his contract and remain a Honda rider until the end of 2024, the one-time 500cc race winner offered a revealing answer.
“I have to think yes, because we have a contract. But on this question, I have to say, I think every person is free to do what they want in life,” Puig said.
“And Honda is not a company that wants to have people that are not happy being in Honda.
“Of course we have a contract with him – but also Honda respects Marc a lot.
“I want to think yes, based on the contract, but I don’t have a magic  ball.”
When The Race put Puig’s comments to Marquez, he said: “Now I am in a very deep [low] moment, and I cannot think about this. You cannot decide your future or things when you are in that condition.
“First of all, now I need to rebuild my body, my mental side during this month and a half.
“I am in the most difficult moment of my career. I’m very lucky that I’m in one of my best moments in my personal life, with a very good team around me, everything stable, and this helps a lot, it’s the only way that is helping me to keep pushing and keep believing that I can do it.
“Now it’s time to be supported by people around you, and that’s what I will do this summer break, to try to start in Silverstone with the same commitment as [at the season opener at] Portimao. Obviously different approach – but same commitment.”
Asked later about whether he’d consider a move to a satellite team, Marquez reiterated: “I cannot at the moment consider all these kinds of things.
“I cannot decide any of these things during these days, these deep days. First of all, I need to breathe, to think, to speak with my people, and then I need to ride the bike again. I need to ride in a good physical condition.”
Marquez’s rib injury worse than it seemed
Marquez had been clear that he wasn’t fully fit coming into Assen after his five-crash weekend at the Sachsenring – but he did hope to at least see out the weekend.
This was ultimately impossible, with Marquez saying the injury to his second rib has proven more severe than originally estimated – likely not helped by his clumsy collision with Enea Bastianini in Q1 on Saturday.
“He was sore, because after five crashes in Germany you can imagine – but during the weekend it got worse,” said Puig.
“And finally today this morning he went to the doctor, and it was not possible.”
Marquez added: “Of course I had a very deep medical check in Madrid on Tuesday and everything was fine. The thing is – the ankle and the finger as we know was broken, but the rib, sometimes in the rib it’s difficult to understand if it’s cracked or it’s completely broken.
“And I made the X-ray scan, all these things, and it was impossible to understand – they thought that it was just a small crack, but already I told you on Thursday that I felt some pain on the rib, then Friday night was worse, and yesterday after the sprint race was even worse.
“Especially around 8pm, 9pm in the evening, the pain increased, increased, increased. Then tonight I couldn’t sleep. That is where I decided that I will not race.
“I got up, I went straight away to the medical centre, to say to them that I’m not able to ride. And they checked again the rib – and in fact it’s broken. Even it’s moving only 2mm, but… it’s there.
“Now I have one month and a half to rebuild everything. The physical side and mental side.”