If one statistic sums up Joan Mir's frustrating MotoGP title defence it's that eleven riders – half of the grid - led a racing lap this season, but the Spaniard was not among them.

The fact that Mir still finished third overall, as the only rider in the top seven not to lead a single lap, says much for his consistency on the GSX-RR.

But the reality of the task faced by Suzuki this winter is that the two riders ahead of Mir in the world championship, Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo (5 wins) and Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia (4), led for 99 and 150 laps respectively.

Suzuki's only laps at the front this season were 5 by Rins.

Notoriously poor qualifying for the GSX-RR exaggerates the laps-led difference compared to their rivals, but with Mir openly disappointed at the rate of technical updates this season, progress will be needed not just to return the GSX-RR to winning ways but see-off likely competition for Mir's services for 2023 and beyond.

"I have ridden the same bike as in 2020 and I have been faster in all races. It's that easy. Joan Mir has been better than in 2020," Mir said in an interview with Marca.com. "The others have improved a lot and I have not been able to be in the positions in which I like to be."

Mir led for 11 laps during his title-winning 2020 campaign (plus 31 by Rins), when Mir also took his first and so far only MotoGP win at Valencia.


Asked about the next round of rider contracts for 2023, Suzuki team MotoGP boss Shinichi Sahara said at the Valencia finale: "I have no reason to change riders at this moment."

Those words will have been reassuring to the mistake prone Alex Rins, who finished ten places behind his team-mate in the world championship.

But if the 2022 GSX-RR doesn’t deliver the progress Mir expects it would help rival manufacturers prise him away from the factory he joined as a rookie in 2019.

"It is important to feel the market a bit, see what we can do," Mir told Marca, when asked if he would be prepared to renew with Suzuki before next season, or prefer to wait and see.

"I don't know what I'll do, but if I see that Suzuki wants the same thing I do, I'll surely stay."

In other words, next year's GSX-RR will need to be fast enough for Mir to at least lead races.