Former Suzuki team manager Davide Brivio has explained why the Japanese marque opted for reigning MotoGP champion Joan Mir over triple world champion Jorge Lorenzo for the 2019 season.
After a difficult first season for Ducati in 2017 and average start to 2018, Lorenzo was ousted from the team for 2019 and was linked to a move to Suzuki.
Suzuki ultimately opted to sign 2017 Moto3 world champion Mir for 2019, with Lorenzo making an ill-fated switch to Honda before retiring at the end of a miserable season on the RC213V.
Mir did have an option to join Honda in 2019, but only for a satellite placement, with the Spaniard keen to join a works outfit.
Suzuki was swayed towards signing Mir “the more we got to know” him according to Brivio, who told motogp.com that he knew he’d made the right decision when he asked Mir directly if he would join Suzuki despite having an option with Honda.
“We started thinking about Mir [for 2019], because winning 10 races [in 2017] and being a Moto3 champion is something that caught our attention,” said Brivio, who will join Alpine’s Formula 1 team this year as racing director.
“At that time we had the option of signing Jorge Lorenzo. In the end we had to decide between Lorenzo and Mir.
“It was not a choice between two riders, rather it was choosing a philosophy and the direction that we wanted to take in the future: take a veteran rider like Lorenzo or develop a young talent.
“The more we got to know Joan and the more we learned about him, the more special he seemed to us.
“Joan liked Suzuki, but he representative told us there was a problem because he already had an option with Honda.
“So, I asked Joan directly: ‘Are you interested in Suzuki even though you have a Honda option? ‘If you had to choose between Suzuki and Honda, where would you go?
“And he said to me: ‘I want to go to Suzuki’. And when he told me that, I thought: ‘he’s the right guy’.”
Mir’s signing maintained Brivio’s philosophy of signing youth talent straight from Moto2, having done so with Maverick Vinales in 2015 and Alex Rins in 2017.
Last year, Mir won Suzuki’s first premier class world championship in two decades.
Speaking to Autosport’s Tank Slappers podcast following his title win last November, Mir explained his decision to join Suzuki was partly motivated by the significance of winning the title with the brand relative to its rivals.