“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” - Is Alvaro Bautista leaving Honda WorldSBK?

Could 14-time WorldSBK race winner Alvaro Bautista be about to walk away from the Honda project after a season and a half of average results?

Alvaro Bautista - Honda WorldSBK

Alvaro Bautista has revealed he has ‘another offer on the table’ from a WorldSBK Championship team, raising speculation he could be about to walk away from his big money Honda deal.

The Spaniard joined Honda at the start of the start of the 20202 WorldSBK season to lead its new full factory project with the new generation CBR1000RR-R Honda Fireblade, but has struggled to make an impact befitting of a wage bill that is thought to be the highest in the field.

Achieving just a single podium finish in 2020 and finishing level on points with team-mate Leon Haslam, Bautista and Honda have slid even further down the pecking order for 2021.

With this in mind, Bautista - who is currently 11th overall with a best finish of fifth - has revealed to Speedweek that he isn’t ‘100 per cent certain’ he will stay with Honda for the 2022 WorldSBK season.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire. I have an offer from another team on the table. I still have the feeling that as a driver I'm good enough to win races. For that I want a motorcycle and a team that can win. Then I'll look. 

“We have a lot of ideas at Honda to improve. But apart from that, there are also possibilities for me. This season and last season are very strange because of COVID-19. One thing is certain: Honda Racing Corporation is very good and is very committed to this project. 

“It's not true that I'm leaving Honda. But it is also not 100 percent certain that I will stay. I've started a new project with Honda, I don't want to do it again.”

Where could Alvaro Bautista ride in the 2022 WorldSBK Championship?

If we believe what Bautista has to say about having an offer on the table - and riders do have a tendency to posture when it comes to negotiation time - then his options would appear to be limited… but not thin.

Technically speaking, no team has a fully confirmed rider line-up for 2022. Kawasaki has signed Alex Lowes and one would assume Jonathan Rea is on board too, though he has mentioned MotoGP so often recently you have to wonder whether he is taking a potential approach from Petronas SRT Yamaha seriously.

At Yamaha, Toprak Razgatlioglu is sealed for 2022 and while Andrea Locatelli’s sharp upturn in form is likely to earn him a stay of execution for next season, he could potentially be shifted to GRT Yamaha, which would be no ‘booby prize’ when you look at the form being displayed by Garrett  Gerloff. Then again, Bautista on a GRT Yamaha could also be a possibility.

As for BMW, it is understood Tom Sykes will get an automatic renewal if he is in a certain position in the championship, though it’s unclear what the details of that are exactly.

Ducati, meanwhile, seems keen to keep hold of Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Scott Redding, though the latter too has said he is canvassing options and Honda might be a potential option for him too.

There was a point where the silly season didn’t look likely to get underway for WorldSBK… now it could be in full swing!

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