Raul Fernandez is taking Moto2 by storm, the question is, is he MotoGP ready?
If you are reading this expecting a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, I am afraid you will be left bitterly disappointed, you see, the thing is that there is no solid answer to the question of if he should stay in Moto2 for another year or move straight up into MotoGP.
He has proven himself to be a title contender in Moto2 as a rookie giving his teammate Remy Gardner an incredibly tough time, stealing important points and wins away from his teammate, not allowing Gardner to feel comfortable nor ‘happy’. Remy needs to have someone pushing him to his limits if he wants to keep up his podium consistency with Fernandez acting as the perfect source of motivation, the Australian has taken 8 podiums in 9 races with his teammate Raul Fernandez taking 6 podiums in 9 races, outscoring Gardner at Portimao, Le Mans and Assen taking wins in each race meaning Remy knows he can be beaten and must up his game if he wants to keep his teammate at bay.
Every track which Fernandez races at he is instantly competitive and looks to be racing on ‘easy’ mode, proving this at Assen after he made a mistake at the start of the race and dropping to P9. Despite running at the lower end of the top 10 he worked his way back through the pack picking off every rider ahead of him including Sam Lowes, Augusto Fernandez and even his teammate Remy Gardner before clearing off once he finally hit the front of the race.
The Spaniard has shown to have extraordinary talent in the middleweight class with many already saying he is ready to move to MotoGP, but is he?
Raul Fernandez has confirmed multiple times to the media that he would like to remain in Moto2 for 2022 with the same Red Bull KTM Ajo team where we could see him contest for the title once again, this is an incredibly smart move, it allows him to ease off the pressure in 2021 and concentrate on perfecting his craft before going for an all-out title attack next year, whereas if he was to sign with a MotoGP team for 2022 he only has this year to be able to battle for the title and his ‘exemptions’ of making rookie mistakes will somewhat be blunted by the fact that he would be good enough for MotoGP.
It took Fernandez just three races to take his first victory in Moto2 at Portimao.
When you go back through history, many of the previous and current MotoGP champions have spent more than one season in the middleweight class despite being good enough for a MotoGP move, both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa took titles aboard 250cc machinery and chose to stay an additional year and defend their #1 plate, the same with Johann Zarco. Marc Marquez very nearly won the Moto2 title in 2011 as a rookie before an eye injury forced him out of the last two races, handing the title to Bradl. Despite Marquez having a satellite Honda MotoGP offer on the table for 2012, the now eight-time champion chose to complete in Moto2 for another year and take the middleweight title, a move which greatly aided his career following a well-timed retirement from Casey Stoner which meant Marquez could slot straight into the Repsol Honda Team, we all know the rest of that story.
A rider who impressed in Moto2 as a rookie and instantly moved into MotoGP the following season was Maverick Vinales, Vinales blitzed his way into the middleweight class with the Pons team and finished 3rd in the championship, winning only his second race in the class before moving to MotoGP with the Suzuki team where he would go on to win in only his 30th race. In recent months Vinales has opened up about this move saying he ‘regets’ it and should’ve stayed in Moto2 for another season.
Moving to MotoGP with the Tech3 team would keep Fernandez locked into the KTM family and will open many doors for him in regards to opportunities, sponsors and of course, money, but if this was to go wrong and he moved up despite not being ready it could be the demise of his career, suffering a fate similar to Iker Lecuona who looks to be ousted from the Tech3 team at the end of 2021 for struggling to perform and be consistently competitive in MotoGP despite showing small flashes of excellence.
To be honest, staying in Moto2 for another season will only benefit Raul instead of hindering him, he gets a chance to gain some more experience and has the chance to take a world championship in the process, whereas moving to MotoGP will come with a lot of pressure and responsibility which he may not be fully mentally ready to handle in this current time. What would be the best way to prepare him for this I hear you ask, well another year of fighting for a Moto2 title, going through the motions of pressure and struggles as a #1 rider in a team without the excuse of being a rookie to back up his mistakes, he will have to hold himself accountable and will gain a whole host of experience doing so, toughening him up to be able to deal with the peak level of motorsport.
MotoGP is the goal for just about every rider, you don’t get any better or higher or elite than MotoGP, if you make it to MotoGP then you have ‘made it’, receiving an offer from a MotoGP team is something incredibly prestigious and not something every rider will receive or is guaranteed to receive meaning Fernandez has an incredibly tough deecision to make if KTM do as we expect and offer him a 2022 seat.
Featured images – Polarity Photo / KTM Media