Bradley Smith has tipped 'two or three' of MotoGP's top riders to sign 2017 deals before the opening round of this season.
As the top satellite rider in last year's championship, Smith is naturally hoping to step up to a factory team in 2017, when all present contracts are up for renewal.
However the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider predicts that new deals are 'pretty much a formality' for some of the sport's biggest stars, while the opening four rounds will be crucial for deciding his own future.
“I would be very surprised if we don't see two or three of the top riders secure their contracts before the first round in Qatar,” Smith told the official MotoGP website. “I think Valentino's [Rossi], Jorge's [Lorenzo] and Marc's [Marquez] contracts are pretty much a formality.
“And with two or three seats already taken, that only leaves one or two other riders before I hope I would be in line for something. These first four races are a huge opportunity to showcase my potential and I am going to grab this opportunity with both hands and try and do my best.”
Reigning world champion Lorenzo has already admitted he would like to secure his future by the opening round.
"Obviously, if you know what is going to happen in your future before the first race, this gives you more quietness, not only to me, but to all riders," he said at the Movistar Yamaha team launch. "I am not in a hurry, but we will see if we can have my future ready if it's possible before the season.”