Newly re-signed Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith isn't sure what specification of Yamaha he will have for MotoGP 2016, but does know it will be the same as team-mate Pol Espargaro.
Usually Tech 3 starts each year with the bikes used by the Factory Yamaha Team at the end of the previous season. But the Englishman is curious to find out Yamaha's plan for a new bike, briefly spotted at the wet post-race Michelin test at Brno.
“I don't know Yamaha's plans because obviously I saw a new bike rolled out of the pits at Brno,” Smith said at Silverstone on Thursday. “It didn't actually go out on track, but I did see it.
“Which I was surprised at to a certain level because I don't actually know what that bike is designed for, whether it is for the factory boys this season or something they've got in mind for next year.
“What I'd imagine is that we would start [testing] at the end of this year on the same material as we have now and then it would be up to Yamaha, the factory riders and the test riders to decide if we need something new for the Michelin [tyres]. And we'll go from there.”
Although team-mates, Espargaro is contracted directly to Yamaha and Smith to the Tech 3 team. The Spaniard received a different chassis earlier this season and Smith admitted that guaranteeing equal machinery was a top priority in his new contract.
“That was the thing that I had to, not really fight, but I just had to make sure,” he said. “At the end of the day Yamaha have been 95% loyal to me and Pol, that we get the same material. But that final 5%, I'm not going to give to my team-mate when he is a Moto2 champion and we have to fight for a factory contract at the end of next year.
“That final 5% is too much for me to give to someone else. As far as I'm aware everything has been written into the agreement that we will be on exactly the same machinery next year.”
With the possible exception of Maverick Vinales - thought to have a Suzuki option for 2017 - the other factory MotoGP seats will all be up for grabs at the end of next year.
As such, it was no coincidence that Smith, like Espargaro, agreed a one-year contract extension.
“We have to think about 2017 and position ourselves,” Smith confirmed. “At the end of the day for someone like me, if I don't get a factory contract in 2017, by the time another factory contract becomes available I'm 28 years old and up against the next breed of riders. I know that they are coming from Moto2 and Moto3.
“I have to put myself in a strong position to get my factory contract [in 2017], because it might be my only chance. I hope that it's not. Most people never get a chance of a factory contract. The lucky few usually keep it. So if I can get my foot in the door maybe I can as well.”
Smith starts his home British MotoGP a career best fifth in the world championship, as the top satellite rider, and having outscored Espargaro in nine of the eleven rounds this year.