Had Alex Marquez not crashed out of the Grand Prix of Argentina on the final lap while chasing team-mate Franco Morbidelli down, Marc VDS team boss Michael Bartholemy may have been contemplating a near-perfect start to 2017.

As it is, just one of his riders can be totally content with the opening three Moto2 races of the year. Building on a strong end to 2016, Morbidelli has carried preseason form into the races, showing speed, consistency and a coolness under pressure that confirms his status as the rightful preseason favourite.

The Italian has racked up three straight wins, the first rider to accomplish this feat in the intermediate category since Daijiro Kato did so 16 years ago, and a clear championship advantage to go with it.

Even for Marquez, a rider that has, at times, appeared totally lost aboard a 600cc machine, there has been a notable jump in performance from the winter months.

The final lap spill in Argentina may have been rash on his part, but the former Moto3 world champion has regularly been contesting the top five, if not higher. Not bad, considering it took Marquez eight races to finish in the top ten a year ago.

And according to Bartholemy, continuity with the team, as well as an improved Kalex chassis, Ohlins suspension set-up and honed aerodynamics are behind the Moto2 team's impressive start to the year.

"I think when we started with Franco, already the last half part of the season last year was not so bad," he told Crash.net in Austin. "Sometimes he felt quite strong and was racing against [Johann] Zarco, who had quite a good package. It's his second year with the team. In the first year you always need a little bit this time to find yourself, to find the way, how you work together and how you set up the bike.

"There were many changes to make this victory in Qatar. In the end we were always beaten by him or by [Thomas] Luthi, people that have a bit more experience. I think last year there were some small mistakes from him. I would say it was inexperience. For sure, the thing in Phillip Island was for sure a little bit his mistake, and also Luthi, with his experience, could beat him. Already there we saw the progress was OK.

"Also, the missing thing with the bike - we were missing a bit of top speed compared to Zarco and Luthi. We have worked quite a lot on this during the winter. We have not done it for the past three years because it was too expensive and I thought it was not needed. I think it was a good step for this season now.

"The new bike is suiting him better in terms of front feeling. Also, Ohlins make quite a big step compared to the beginning of last year. In the end [of 2016] it was already coming better. For sure there was a big difference after the Valencia race when we were going to test. There was some new material coming that we develop over the season. In the end you always think, 'OK, it's coming next week.'

"But they are big companies with big change so basically we were going a bit in this MotoGP direction with the suspension. It was taking more time than expected but I think these three or four factors together has made the result that we had in Qatar and Argentina."

Bartholemy also revealed his belief that we are seeing a more mature Alex Marquez at work this year. The opening half of 2016 was an unmitigated disaster, during which the Catalan finished just four races. Of those four, just two were in the points (eleventh in Austin, eighth in Assen).

Along with the chassis and suspension updates that have benefited Morbidelli, it was a phone call between team manager and rider last June, when uncertainty over his future was cast to one side, that led to an upturn in Marquez's fortunes.

"For me the main thing with Alex is the front feeling with the bike. The biggest problem last year was when we had a heavy bike at the beginning of the race. He was struggling with front feeling and most of the crashes he had were in the beginning of the race.

"For sure the new chassis is helping a lot with us. From our side we were directly convinced the 2017 bike is better. Other people were hesitating a bit between the 2016 and '17. Luthi right now is hesitating a little bit [between which is better]. For our riders this way was better.

'"The second thing with him is... My feeling is last year he was a bit, does he stay with us or leave the team. I think his management was also not 100 percent sure if VDS was the team to stay in. In one moment in the year, in June, he called me and said, 'This is the team I want to stay in. It doesn't matter what other people think. I want to continue.'

"I think this is also a little bit a 'click'. He started to be more mature. Now you see a different Alex on track. A day like today [Friday, after FP1] or in Argentina or Qatar, when he goes out he fights with the people. He's not anymore the guy that waits. He's there. He showed he has the speed and that he can go faster than other people. The package for both riders is pretty OK."

Morbidelli currently leads the Moto2 world championship by 19 points, while Marquez sits sixth, eight behind Takaaki Nakagami in fourth.