The Australian, who arrived into MotoGP as the reigning Moto2 world champion, has endured a frustrating rookie season with Tech 3 KTM.

Gardner has not been alone in struggling to find consistent form and performance aboard KTM machinery, as highly-touted team-mate Raul Fernandez became the last rookie to score points this season (round nine in Catalunya). 

Aside from a good opening couple of races for the factory Red Bull KTM team, the Austrian manufacturer has been well down the pecking order when it comes to qualifying in particular.

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Race pace has generally been stronger, but that has usually come solely in the hands of Brad Binder, who had it not been for the South African producing stunning fightbacks more often than not, then results would have looked much worse. 

It’s clear that for a rookie, the RC16 hasn’t been the kindest of bikes as Iker Lecuona, now in WorldSBK, also struggled to show his true potential. 

While Gardner had reasonable expectations coming into the season - battling for rookie of the year honours - the son of legendary racer Wayne Gardner, has stated they were much higher than the current results being delivered.

"I didn’t go out and expect to win," Gardner told MotoGP.com. "But I definitely expected to at least fight for the rookie of the year. For sure, the expectations were a little bit higher than what we are achieving at the moment. 

"It’s a little bit disappointing but we just need to keep working and do what we can to make that step."

Gardner unsure whether future lies in MotoGP

After scoring points on just two occasions prior to round nine of the season, Gardner appeared to make a step forward in Barcelona as he recorded a finish of 11th, which is by far his best premier class result.   

But is it enough to secure the Australian a place on the grid as there appears to be more riders than bikes available. 

Gardner doesn’t feel KTM has made the same improvements compared to its rivals, and while frustrating for the Aussie, it’s not like a plethora of options are available.

Gardner continued by saying: "There were for sure some points this year where it was quite frustrating. In the end you have to have the mindset where you can accept the situation and try to make the best of it. 

"At the moment there’s nothing else we can do. I can’t go out and buy a Ducati and ride a Ducati. I ride the KTM at the moment. 

"I think everyone has made an incredible step as manufacturers and I don’t think we managed to make that step this year. I’m trying to work as best as I can with KTM. I would love to stay in this paddock but at the moment I honestly don’t know."

Martin open to leaving Ducati should he fail to receive a factory machine in 2023

While Gardner’s future might appear uncertain, so does Jorge Martin’s as the Spaniard still has no idea where he will be riding next season. 

Martin was the early-season favourite to replace Jack Miller at the factory Lenovo Ducati team, but with the rise of Enea Bastianini, and Martin struggling for consistency after crashing out of several races, the former Moto3 world champion says he still needs to ‘figure out where I can be’. 

Also speaking to MotoGP.com, Martin added: "My future was almost completely clear but it seems that now I have to figure out where I can be next year. 

"Maybe sometimes thinking about the future can be hard to control the pressure and be 100% focused but I've learned that the things you can't control are things you don't have to be nervous about, so it's trying to be concentrated and focused on the riding and forget a little what I cannot control."

Although his options for next season are likely to reside within the Ducati family, Martin is not ruling out a shock departure from the Italian marque should he fail to receive a factory bike.

"If you purely look at the results then Enea [Bastianini] deserves that place and I don’t. But if you look inside [the whole picture] I think it’s a different story," added Martin. 

"He has a really good bike and I think with that bike I already did those things in the last year. 

"For sure, Pramac is the best team I’ve ever been in and I’m happy here. But in case I’m not on a factory bike in Ducati, then I will look [elsewhere] for a factory bike."