Cal Crutchlow fully understands Jorge Lorenzo's decision to retire from MotoGP after a painful and demoralising season at Honda.

But the Englishman also maintains that the five-time world champion 'would have come good in the end' on the RCV, explaining that – with the exception of Casey Stoner - it takes 'many years' to be successful on the Honda if you arrive from a different MotoGP machine.

"I still stand by what I said, which is that if Jorge would have stayed I think he would have come good in the end," Crutchlow said.

"Say you are three-seconds off, you're still going fast, you're still risking crashing. I know three-seconds in our world is a massive difference, three-tenths is a big difference. What I'm saying is, I think if he would have continued, he would have got faster.

"But I fully understand his decision, probably even more than anyone else in the paddock. It's not easy to get back up and what he's done in his career, he's fulfilled everything you could hope for really. He has to be happy, I'm sure he is."

Upon announcing his retirement, Lorenzo cited his massive Assen accident – which left him with back fractures – as the moment when he began to doubt his future in the sport.

Crutchlow admitted he went through a similar thought process after sustaining serious ankle injuries at Phillip Island last season. But in his case, it only lasted an hour.

"When [Lorenzo] crashed [at Assen], he got back up and said he didn't want to go on. I understand that, because last year when I crashed [at Phillip Island] I also felt the same," Crutchlow said.

"But I'm different because like [in practice at Valencia] when I crashed, I just like the fact I got back up and went faster. That's just me.

"So I understood [Lorenzo] but also one hour later [at Phillip Island] I was planning with the surgeon how I could come back and race at Valencia. Obviously it was impossible with the cage on my leg, but in my head I was already wanting to come back.

"It's different for different people. I think Marc is more like me and someone maybe more sensitive like Jorge is different, but what is right and wrong I don’t know."

The statistics show that after 44 wins and three titles at Yamaha, then three more race wins at Ducati, Lorenzo's best result on the Honda was just eleventh place.

"No, I'm not surprised at all [by Lorenzo's difficult season]. I always said, go and take one guy from Yamaha or Ducati and put them on the Honda and you'll see. It's a difficult bike. It takes many years," said Crutchlow, who began his own MotoGP career on a satellite Yamaha, then spent a season at the factory Ducati team before joining LCR and Honda in 2015.

Crutchlow took one podium in his debut RCV campaign, becoming the first British rider since Barry Sheene to win a premier-class race, at Brno, the following season. Further victories followed at Phillip Island 2016 and Argentina 2018, alongside a total of 12 Honda podiums.

"If you look on paper I'm the only guy who came from a different manufacturer and has been fast with this bike and been on the podium - [apart from Casey Stoner] but we're talking a different planet there.

"I'm talking from a satellite rider point of view, that's the truth. Because Marc, Dani, Jack, Scott, Tito, Luthi had all only ever ridden a Honda. So I know what the other bikes feel like and their strong points, even though it was some years ago. The DNA of the bikes always stays the same."

Interestingly, Crutchlow believes the key to adapting to the Honda is not so much dealing with its weak point, but getting the maximum out of its strong point.

"The bike is so strong in the braking, you cannot believe. So to get your head around that - you [media] are probably thinking about trying to get your head around the bad point, but a lot of the time it's getting your head around the good point," he said.

"Because you can keep pushing and pushing really hard with the front of the bike and that's a difficult thing to do to be able to brake later and take more risk. But the more risk you take and later you brake, the more the bike likes it and the faster you go."

Crutchlow was the only Honda rider other than world champion Marc Marquez to stand on the podium this season, climbing the rostrum on three occasions, but only finished ninth overall in the standings.

"Average" was the word Crutchlow used to describe his fifth year on an RCV, adding: "We need to build a bike that is more consistent, that you can push to the limit consistently without making mistakes and crashing."

Indeed, despite all his race wins coming on the Honda, Crutchlow's best season remains fifth in the world championship for Tech3 Yamaha back in 2015 - when he only suffered two DNFs.

That compares with either five or six DNFs for each full season on the Honda (Crutchlow only retired three times last season, but missed the last three rounds).

In terms of his own MotoGP future, after suggesting he might call time on his career when his contract expires at the end of next season, the 34-year-old has recently been emphasising that no decision has been taken.

"The whole story started because I did the interview in the middle of the year saying maybe this is my last contract, maybe I'll retire. But it was maybe," he said.

"I don’t set a date for when I'm going to [decide]… But my plan is to go into next year 100% and see what happens and either way I'll make my decision."

While Crutchlow's 2019 preparations were severely disrupted by the lengthy recovery needed for the ankle injury, he is now the only experienced Honda rider not to have recently undergone a major operation.

Both Marc Marquez and Crutchlow's LCR team-mate Takaaki Nakagami are currently recovering from shoulder surgery, while rookie Alex Marquez is taking over Lorenzo's place alongside his older brother.

 

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