It’s not as if further evidence was needed of the depth of Honda’s plight heading into the MotoGP season, but 2020 world champion Joan Mir has provided it anyway by admitting that this year has made him so unhappy he’s considered retiring from MotoGP at the age of 25 .
Mir joined the Repsol Honda team this year as Pol Espargaro’s replacement alongside Marc Marquez after the former Suzuki team withdrew from MotoGP.
While on paper it created a super team pairing of a six-time MotoGP world champion and the man stepping up to claim a first ‘post-Marquez’ title in 2020, the reality was a year of incessant crashes and injuries across Honda’s line-up. -above, with the bike not even being particularly competitive when its riders can stay on it.
Mir’s 11th place finish in Portimao’s first season remains his only points finish of the season so far. He was injured in accidents both at Termas de Rio Hondo in early April (head and neck injury) and at Mugello in June (finger damage that ultimately ruled him out of three grands prix).
He first revealed his retirement in an interview with Spanish broadcaster DAZN and expanded on his thoughts when he met the wider media at the Red Bull Ring paddock today.
Mir admitted he had a “break down” mentally earlier this year, but said he had now reached a better place and felt committed to making things work at Honda, even if for now it meant accepting that good results were a long way off.
“I’m having a hard time,” he said.
“I am in a moment where I now accept the situation I am in. Before I didn’t want to accept it, and probably mentally this is more difficult, because you want a thing, you can’t have it, you can’t have it, you can’t have it… And it’s hard to accept it.
“Now I accept it. I know the situation I’m in. And I want to change things. This is the important thing.
“It’s true that at one point I seriously considered quitting. But not because I wanted to go to another bike. I wanted to stop because I was mentally breaking down.
“Now I’m not in that situation. Now I’m in a different situation.
“I know that if I stopped, I would regret it a lot in the future. This is the main thing. You say ‘I want to stop!’, it will happen to you at some point that you don’t have a good time at your job and have some conversations with a lot of people, you just have a bad month and you want to stop.
“And you say ‘if I leave here, I’ll regret it in the future.’ I was in this situation. Then I thought I want to keep trying.”
Mir admitted that he had also considered quitting when he suffered multiple injuries in a massive crash in Brno during his rookie season in 2019, but that he overcame those thoughts more quickly that time.
“When you’re having a bad time and a bad crash like that, you think a lot about yourself, if it’s worth it. That’s how it happened that time too,” he said. “But within a day I was back.”
Part of Mir’s strategy to stay in a better state of mind over his and Honda’s situation is to focus on the fact that the team is at least bringing development parts, saying it “always motivates you to be more optimistic.”
At the Red Bull Ring this weekend he will get his first taste of the substantially revised aero package tested by LCR’s Taka Nakagami at Silverstone two weeks ago – seen on the left in the comparison image below.
Nakagami reported that this created “crazy downforce” but with negative consequences for other areas of performance, including that it was such a different concept that it required a total overhaul of the setup, and because the increase in front grip it provides leaves the rear comparatively light holding.
Mir said he had accepted the reality and was focusing on the scope of long-term improvement rather than expecting immediate gains.
“New aerodynamics, but quite different,” he said.
“So that means the whole balance and everything changes so much.
“We will definitely improve in some areas, but we will get worse in others. I think in general it should be better.
“And we’re going to focus on trying to make a base [setting]. I don’t know if we will manage to make the base tomorrow or Saturday or even Sunday. Or even if we need more matches. But it is the first point and an improvement is always welcome.
“It’s not a drama for me to do it [rear] it gets worse if we improve in one area because it means we have another way to improve, and that’s what I want to do: I want to try things, I want to take risks in the settings, I want to make the bike different.”
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