Jorge Lorenzo believes the secret to double MotoGP champion Marc Marquez's remarkable speed is a mixture of talent, bravery and high risk.
After romping to ten straight wins, then an eleventh at Silverstone, Marquez fell in three of the next four races. But in-between the Repsol Honda star wrapped up the title by finishing runner-up to Lorenzo in Japan, then completed a record-breaking season with victories in Malaysia and Valencia.
“I think he is a rider that risks a lot,” Lorenzo said, denying that Marquez's late season mistakes were down to pressure or nerves. “And when you risk a lot you have more possibilities to make some mistakes, or to crash, or to get injured.
“So that is why he is very fast - he is very talented, he is very brave, but also he takes a lot of risks. Probably this year less than the first year. Last year there were a lot of crashes, this year less.
“But obviously he keeps pushing a lot and this gives you more possibilities to crash.”
The 2014 falls list
also suggests that Marquez has a higher risk threshold. Marquez crashed eleven times this year, compared with just two falls for Lorenzo, five for Valentino Rossi and six for Dani Pedrosa.
Lorenzo meanwhile scored more points than any other rider during the second half of the season, racking up a total of 166 during the nine rounds from Indianapolis onwards. That compares with 154 for Yamaha team-mate Rossi, 137 for Marquez and 98 for Pedrosa.
“If the championship had started at Indianapolis we would be leading it. I know it doesn't work like that, but it demonstrates that the beginning of our championship was a disaster and we lost a lot of points,” Lorenzo said. “It should make us know that we need to be more ready and better prepared from the beginning of next year.”
Lorenzo's 2014 title chances never recovered from a nightmare opening pair or rounds, which saw a fall on the first lap in Qatar then jump start in Texas. Tyres, rain torment and a lack of fitness also contributed to just two podiums in the opening eight races.
“From the first tests we found out that the new tyre construction was not ideal for our riders,” explained Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis. “I would also say that the Honda was on a better level than the Yamaha at the start of the year.
“So our engineers did a lot of work to improve the bike, in particular the braking, and I would say that now we are virtually on the same level as the Honda.
“Valentino was strong from the beginning of the season but Jorge was not as strong as he could and should have been. And of course he had two errors in the first two races which put him very much on the back foot.
“If we look at the performance from Jorge at the end of last season - which was phenomenal after the collarbone breaks - he had surgery, he had some changes in his organisation and planning and I don't think he will be doing the same things again next year.
“So I think a combination of things needed to be improved [at the start of this season] and Marc of course was sensational. So from the very, very beginning there was this incredibly high level.”
Lorenzo admits that the combination of winter surgery and changes to his personal trainers left him below his usual level of fitness for the start of pre-season testing.
“I was 4-5kg too heavy,” said the double world champion. “I could still do up my leathers, but my stomach was a bit too big!”
Lorenzo, just 16th in the standings after round two in Texas, saw his hopes of snatching second in the world championship from Rossi disappear after a bike-swap gamble backfired at the Valencia finale.