Pol Espargaro has confirmed that he has “options outside Yamaha” with regards to 2017 but denied reports that he has already decided to leave the Tech 3 Yamaha outfit at the end of the current season.
As team-mate Bradley Smith's departure to KTM for 2017 was announced at the first race of the year, the younger Espargaro brother has been linked to several seats on the grid, including a potential vacancy in a Sito Pons-run outfit, should the Moto2 team owner secure the 24th and final MotoGP grid slot.
On Saturday evening the 24-year said, “It's true that we have options that are not inside Yamaha but I didn't stop to think about these options. We have some offers but not someone to say, 'OK, I'm going to go there.' Still, we need to wait a little bit. These races are good for me because I'm in good shape and have shown that, when everything is going well, I can do it better.
“A lot of things are open. Jorge has moved to Ducati so a lot of things can happen now. Jorge was the first to move so after Jorge a lot of riders are going to move. Then we'll see what happens because suddenly we have riders have front that are more popular than me.”
Espargaro placed as high as third in FP3, thanks to following Marc Marquez around Jerez's 13 turns, before qualifying in eighth, six places ahead of team-mate Bradley Smith.
While the day offered positives for Espargaro, he was still puzzled by the ease with which he followed Marquez, compared to the struggles he is enduring when lapping alone.
“I have to say that it was easier to do this lap time than the qualifying alone. Behind Marc I'm even more comfortable than when I'm behind Valentino. I don't know why but I can follow his line more than a Yamaha rider's one. When I checked the lap time, I asked how it was possible to do that. I was not pushing like qualifying.
“When I came into the garage I didn't understand why. We checked and found one or two directions to work on the bike. It's crazy how you can improve behind one rider that has a similar style to you. I felt really comfortable.
“Marquez's position on the bike, going into corners and the throttle, he do everything similar to me. For example to follow Valentino I lose a lot of time. He's fast in the places I cannot be fast. With Marc it's the opposite. Trust me I was doing 40.2/3, then I follow Marc and did a 1m 39.4s. I was much more comfortable than when I was alone. It was crazy.
“Marquez's bike is working completely the opposite to Yamaha. With new tyres I could do one or two fast laps. To do it alone there is no chance. I will break the tyre. It's similar as my style as the first year in Yamaha. I was doing an effort to change that and I'm [still] doing it.
Here in Jerez it works for one lap but not the whole race. For sure I would blow up the tyres. The style is going into the corners faster and not opening the lines. You have to open the throttle earlier and like this you'd blow the tyre. You cannot do that with Yamaha.
Espargaro, who is currently signed to a factory Yamaha contract, added, “It has other good parts. In places he was taking some gap, I was recovering in some others. For example, entering into the corner. I'm adjusting myself and learning some of the parameters [in which] the Yamaha is fast. Still I don't understand 100 percent why I'm so comfortable behind Marc and not Jorge and Vale.”