's Top 10 MotoGP Riders of 2021: 4th - Joan Mir

Former world champion Joan Mir places fourth in our top ten rider countdown for the 2021 MotoGP season.
Joan Mir, Algarve MotoGP, 6 November 2021
Joan Mir, Algarve MotoGP, 6 November 2021
© Gold and Goose
  • Team: Suzuki Ecstar (factory)
  • Bike: GSX-RR
  • Wins: 0
  • Podiums: 6
  • Best Qualifying: 3rd
  • Fastest Lap: 1
  • DNFs: 2
  • Championship position: 3rd

Joan Mir is adamant that he rode better in 2021 than during his title winning 2020 MotoGP season. We agree, which is why Mir is the only rider we've placed inside our top six despite not winning a race. Indeed, not even leading a lap.

"I’m a bit angry because I know my potential this year," Mir said after his title chances evaporated at Misano. "I’m making less mistakes and I’m a better rider. And I will not get the championship. It’s difficult to understand."

As Mir made clear, he goes racing to fight for titles, which means winning grands prix (at least one, in the case of last season). Ultimately, the three riders we've placed ahead of Mir won three or more times this year, meaning we've reluctantly ranked the Spaniard one below his final championship position.

The difficulty in assessing Mir's season is similar to that of Aleix Espargaro at Aprilia. With Suzuki only putting two bikes on the grid, and Mir's team-mate Alex Rins having a nightmare season in terms of race mistakes, there is no clear gauge to measure against.

On paper, the ten-place gulf between Mir and Rins in the final standings is a clear thrashing. But factor in that Rins was ahead of Mir on four of the six occasions that he crashed (and close behind at Mugello) and it's not quite so clear cut.

"Mir is making the strategy of last year, trying to finish all the races, but finishing all the races you win the world title once, not many times," Marc Marquez said in late May.

Whether Mir was indeed too conservative is debatable, but qualifying is the one area where Mir might feel he could have done better personally this year, having been outqualified by Rins 11 times in 17 rounds and with his team-mate giving the GSX-RR it's only laps in the lead this year.

But the bottom line is that Mir was the top Suzuki across the finish line in 13 races this season and also largely responsible for the factory's third place in the constructors' and teams' standings.

A winless season by a reigning champion hasn't been endured since Nicky Hayden in 2007 and Suzuki fielding the 'same bike' as last season - while rivals took a step forward despite the Covid technical freeze on engine development – soon became a source of frustration for Mir.

"A lot of manufacturers improved and we didn’t improve," Mir said at Catalunya in June. "Our bike is really good. We have a good base. But I have the same bike as last year.

"What does that mean? I’ve been two-tenths closer to pole position than here last year, but I was eighth last year and now I’m tenth.

"I’m a bit worried because I want to defend the title. And I think Suzuki also. But I think we can push a bit more, honestly… To bring more things."

The last factory to provide its riders with a rear ride-height device, after the summer break, Suzuki's anti-wheelie system was well received but ultimately didn't transform their fortunes.

Much will now be expected of the 2022 machine, especially with Mir likely to be among those weighing up multiple offers for his services in 2023.

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