Having said on the eve of the German MotoGP that this would be his 'first weekend without physical limitations' due to his healing arm and shoulder, Marc Marquez backed his words up by being fastest in Friday's opening practice.

The Repsol Honda star, unbeaten at the Sachsenring since 2009, was again leading the timesheets heading into the closing stages of the afternoon session, but slipped to an eventual twelfth place (+0.6s) after electing not to fit new tyres.

All eleven riders that moved ahead of Marquez only did while using new rear rubber in the closing ten minutes, Jack Miller (ninth) the medium and everyone else the soft.

Despite his best start to a MotoGP event since July 2020, Marquez revealed that his hopes of having 'zero limitations' from his arm and shoulder had been dashed, at least on day one, and he certainly doesn't feel like the favourite.

"I’m not the favourite at the moment. I’m coming back from a deep [tough] situation. In the end I didn’t put a new tyre because I didn't feel enough power and energy to use," Marquez said.

"It was in the plan to put a new tyre but I did two small long runs to understand the rear tyre. Then I said to the team, I don’t feel ready to put a new tyre. I don’t feel enough energy, so let’s wait until tomorrow.

"Yesterday I said [there will be] zero physical limitations here compared to the other circuits. It's less, but I still feel something. Honestly speaking, I expected to have zero problems, but still I am not riding very well.

"I think you can see my right elbow is very high all the time and I cannot ride like I want. But at the moment I am able to manage to be in a good pace, but it's not the best one on the racetrack at the moment

"Tomorrow I will try to improve that riding style."

Marquez revealed that it could take one year for all the muscles to return to normal after undergoing surgery three times between July and December.

"All the doctors I visited said after three surgeries to the humerus, that is a single bone, it’s possible that you have a small rotation or something like this," he said.

"So the body needs time. When they say time, I said, 'what means time? 1 week? 1 month? 1 year?' They say '1 year'. The muscles will compensate. Maybe some muscles that before worked less, will now work more. But the muscles should compensate for this this different position of the arm.

"At the moment this is where I’m struggling. I have the mobility, but I don’t feel safe, I don’t have power. So in Montmelo I was working a lot on that position. I was able to do it. But now here with more left corners, I’m not able to do it. But it’s not a high limitation in corner speed. In right corners it’s a limitation."

Marquez's previous injury complications and ongoing recovery means that, after winning 56 MotoGP races and taking 95 podiums between 2013 and 2019, he's been off the rostrum since November 2019.

Former team-mate and triple MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo recently revealed he enjoyed winning rather than actually riding.

Marquez admitted that under normal circumstances he would find it hard to race in MotoGP without being competitive, but said he is using his past success as motivation to overcome his present physical situation.

"I always say one of the motivations to be here is because I like the taste of the podiums and winning races and be competitive. As soon as I feel I can’t be competitive, fighting for the top positions, then it's time to reconsider many things," said the eight time world champion.

"But that is not the actual situation now. The actual situation is I have some limitations that I'm working [on] and I have some target and extra motivation to ride in same way like in the past.

"It’s true that if you win many races and many championships in the past, you need extra fuel. The victories, the emotions give you extra energy, extra fuel, extra motivation. A winner needs this.

"For that reason I say many times I appreciate but at the same time I am surprised by the way Valentino accepts this. Because now Valentino is riding, he don’t have options [to be competitive] but still he is enjoying. Or looks like he is enjoying.

"But in his position, I cannot imagine. Maybe in the future, I don’t know. But I cannot imagine staying in this championship and not have the chance to even stay even on the podium."

Marquez and team-mate Pol Espargaro debuted Honda's 2021 fairing upgrade during Friday practice, the aero change making a small difference but far from solving the rear grip issues that have kept the RCV from the podium so far this year.

"It was ok, it was fine," said Espargaro, who was the top Honda rider in fifth place despite two Friday crashes. "There is a little bit of difference. But if you check the results lists you see a lot of riders in less than 1 tenth. So even if it’s a little difference, it’s enough."

LCR's Takaaki Nakagami added: "We tested [the new fairing] in Montmelo but honestly I didn’t feel a huge difference. I think this weekend I will not use the new one and we keep the standard. I don’t feel any big advantage."

At one stage on Friday Marquez, Nakagami and Espargaro had formed an all-Honda top three on the timesheets.

"I have no idea why the bike is working better here than the other places," said Espargaro. "T1 and T2 are long corners but not very fast corners. So normally we have problems in long corners when they are very fast and you need to carry corner speed and then accelerate and go again with lot of corner speed.

"But even in the fast areas, where we should not be as fast, we are not so bad. I’m just trying to understand why we are better here than the other places."

"Crashing is not in the plan and I’m trying to find limit as fast as I can to avoid the crashes in the race," Espargaro added. "I try to go on the limit now in all the sessions just trying to figure it out; how much lean angle I can have, how tight I can do the corners to gain time and to overtake.

"I’m having problems in that area. My lean angle is huge and super high to make the bike turn. It does not allow me to have any safety."