Despite taking podiums in two of the first three rounds of the 2009 MotoGP season, including second place in front of his home fans at Jerez last Sunday, Dani Pedrosa has made clear that the current Honda RC212V 'must improve' to win.
Pedrosa, whose pre-season accident at Qatar required knee and forearm surgery - leaving him short of physical fitness and development time for the start of the season - had avoided public criticism of Honda, stating that he was not yet fast enough to evaluate new parts.
The Spaniard had also remained silent over the state of his front tyre at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix and the rumours circulating about Repsol possibly targeting arch-rival Jorge Lorenzo.
However, after leading the first 17 of the 27 laps at the Spanish Grand Prix, before being overtaken by Valentino Rossi, Pedrosa perhaps felt he had earned the right to air his views.
"It is difficult to know which direction to go in [with the bike],” Spanish sportspaper Marca
reports Pedrosa as saying. “It is complex to find out exactly what we need… but I cannot show all my potential at the moment.”
The main problem with the latest RCV appears to be the chassis, or more specifically matching the chassis characteristics to the new control Bridgestone tyres.
The Gresini Honda team has used the Japanese tyres for several seasons, and Pedrosa ran Bridgestone tyres for the last five rounds of 2008, but the switch to a limited range of wide-operating rubber - under the new single-tyre rule - seems to have hit Honda harder than any other manufacturer.
Repsol Honda team manager Kazuhiko Yamano has repeatedly made clear that the present RCV 'must improve', while even the satellite Honda riders, wary of offending HRC, have hinted strongly that there is a significant problem with the RCV chassis.
Meanwhile, factory riders Pedrosa and Dovizioso both appear to have found new chassis developments no better than what they already had.