Honda MotoGP boss Alberto Puig says he cannot be sure how long it will take Jorge Lorenzo to adapt next season when he moves to the team from Ducati.
Lorenzo will join Honda after two seasons at Ducati, with which he registered his first winless MotoGP campaign last year as he struggled to acclimatise to the manufacturer’s Desmosedici after nine years at Yamaha.
The 2010, ’12 and ’15 MotoGP champion finally scored his first win for Ducati last month at Mugello, following that up with a second success at Barcelona – although the marque had already decided to replace him with Danilo Petrucci before those wins.
While Puig said Lorenzo’s record suggests he has the “potential” to recreate his recent race-winning form at Honda, he admitted Honda was uncertain about how long it could take for this to happen.
“Lorenzo has three MotoGP titles, we believe he has a potential to make good results with our bike,” said Puig.
“We expect he will try to get to the level and race to win, as he did in the past.
“But you never know how a rider can adapt to a machine – sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not. It took him quite a long time to understand the Ducati. Once he understood, he won two races in a row.
“We expect him to be fast. How fast? We don’t know. When will he be fast? Also we don’t know.
“But we believe with his potential and his racing career, he is not coming to Honda [just] to stay out on track.”
Lorenzo will replace the retiring Dani Pedrosa in 2019, and Puig said the fact his new signing had a similar riding style to the man whose place he will take could ease Lorenzo’s transition.
“Both [Lorenzo and Pedrosa] in a way are smooth,” said Puig. “Lorenzo carries speed in the corner, when he has the feeling, and Dani is good at turning and picking up the bike.
“To have different riders is very interesting from our side because you can develop machines, they can learn, try to see different ways.
“The engineers learn from the riders, so let’s see what Lorenzo brings to Honda.”