Andrea Dovizioso could be facing the choice of being downgraded to a satellite Honda team next season, or moving to Tech 3 Yamaha.
Upon confirming the signing of 2007 world champion Casey Stoner from Ducati, Honda also announced its intention to keep both Dani Pedrosa and Dovizioso for 2011, meaning a three-rider factory squad.
But that is dependent on finding extra funding and, unless a sponsor steps up, Dovizioso looks like being the rider that will make way for Stoner.
This is despite the Italian being third in the 2010 standings and having performance-related options for 2011 to stay at Repsol Honda, which he looks set to fulfil.
reports that Dovizioso, who took his first and only MotoGP victory to date at a damp Donington Park last year, is facing the likelihood of a switch to the Gresini Honda team - on a factory bike, alongside fellow HRC signing Marco Simoncelli and at the expense of Marco Melandri - or joining Yamaha's satellite Tech 3 outfit.
Tech 3 will have at least one seat spare for 2011 - Ben Spies looks set to replace Valentino Rossi in the factory team, while Colin Edwards is facing an uncertain future.
Dovizioso has been a Honda rider since his full time grand prix debut in the 125cc class in 2002, and won the eighth-litre crown for Honda in 2004.
As well as loyalty to Honda, the concerns raised by Spies and Edwards over the competiveness of the 2010 satellite M1 - said to be a 2009 chassis, with 2010 engine - is also likely to make Dovizioso wary of a change of brand.