Gardner, the reigning Moto2 champion and son of former 500cc legend Wayne Gardner, had been tipped to keep his place and ride alongside the returning Pol Espargaro.

But upon officially announcing Espargaro’s deal and Tech3’s future GASGAS backing on Friday, KTM motorsports director Pit Beirer revealed:

"We cannot confirm the second rider yet, there is also still a chance to keep our friend Miguel inside the family."

Whether Miguel Oliveira can be convinced to switch from the factory Red Bull team back to Tech3 is unclear, but KTM’s ongoing pursuit of the Portuguese underlined that Gardner’s place is very much at risk.

And even if Oliveira takes up the long-rumoured alternative of an RNF Aprilia ride, Moto2 title contender Augusto Fernandez is another name now being linked with the GASGAS seat.

“No, it's not [looking great for next year],” Gardner said after Sunday’s Red Bull Ring race. “In MotoGP, it doesn't look like there's anything… KTM’s done it again!”

KTM: 'In Jerez, Raul Fernandez informed us he will leave'

One name definitely not in the mix at Tech3 next year is Gardner's team-mate and fellow rookie Raul Fernandez, who decided he didn't want to remain with KTM as early as round six, at Jerez.

“I had a really honest and even nice and friendly talk between Raul, myself, and his manager. That was in Jerez, so in Jerez, he informed us that he will leave,” Pit Beirer told Dorna’s Simon Crafar on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring.

“So, since there, it’s just [finding] a formal way to close [the agreement] and how we stop it, but actually from Jerez, he is free to talk to other teams.

“There is no hope or anything that he will stay, but… we will do everything for him to the last race, that’s very clear.”

Like Oliveira, Fernandez is hotly linked with the new-look RNF squad, which is swapping Yamahas for (2022-spec) Aprilia machines next season.

If both Fernandez and Gardner depart, it will mean Tech3 has an all-new rider line-up for the second year in a row.

Darryn Binder: I’m hoping for Moto2

If Gardner is left without a ride, he is unlikely to be the only rookie forced out of MotoGP at the end of this season, with RNF’s Darryn Binder once again confirming that Moto2 remains his most likely destination.

“Right now I'm hoping to go to Moto2 because it looks like the MotoGP is not an option anymore,” said the South African, who skipped the intermediate class by jumping straight from Moto3 this season.

“I'm not sure exactly [which team]. I'm waiting for my manager to come with some offers for me and I'll choose the best one! Let’s see what happens.”

Binder - who rocketed from 21st to 12th on the opening lap of Sunday's race, but later fell from 15th - has scored 10 points this season. Gardner has 9 points and Fernandez 5.

Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio di Giannantonio, both riding Ducati GP21s, currently lead the rookie standings with 68 and 23 points respectively.