Espargaro has shown strong race pace on the RC213V in the first three rounds of 2021, but has only managed a best of eighth in the Qatar GP and was forced out of the Portugal race due to a rear brake failure.
But so far Espargaro has not been able to match his qualifying form with his race pace, the Spaniard only cracking the top 12 once so far.
Speaking during the Portuguese GP weekend, Espargaro admits the biggest problem he is having his understanding the limit of the Honda’s front end, which is stopping him from hooking together clean laps in qualifying.
However, he expects this is more a matter of a lack of experience rather than any problem with the bike and didn’t want to blame the front tyre allocation brought to the race so far this season.
“Well, this kind of bike – also the KTM – are bikes where you make up most of the time on the brakes, entering fast, stopping the bike, turning and go,” Espargaro explained.
“Then you need to be strong on the brakes, but if you don’t know where to brake then this is a problem.
“So, if you don’t know where exactly the limit is of the front, this is a problem because then you can’t take the best performance of grip.
“So, at the moment it feels like in other sectors I am ok. In T1 [at Portimao], I was fastest in my qualifying session, so I’m able to be fast.
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“But I do not match all the sectors on the lap because as on the brakes is where you gain time, I go wide too many times and I make too many mistakes on there.
“This is a problem because if you are not fast and you cannot put everything together, in this tight qualifying, one, two tenths is enough to be first or fourth or fifth.
“It’s just a matter of making more laps, knowing the situation a little bit more, going to places I know more about the braking points.
“Then I think it’s going to be much easier for me to understand the situation and especially to match all the sectors on one lap.
“So just we need to be patient and it will come because we have the speed. I need to put it together.”
Espargaro admitted ahead of last weekend’s race that the return of Marc Marquez was “important” for him to continue his adaptation to the Honda.
LCR’s Alex Marquez – who trailed his brother in the Portugal race in eighth – noted that Marc was already showing Honda riders the limit of the RC213V.
“I’m on track but looks like I’m at home,” he said when asked if it was strange to have his brother back in the paddock after his season out.
“So, it’s better to have him back, also for Honda.
“He’s putting the bike to its limit, he’s showing to us the limit of the bike again. So, this is good for us.”