But the year ended with optimism in the form of a radically revised RC213V prototype handed to the Spaniard for the Valencia test.

Although 13th on the timesheets (+0.798s), Suzuki’s 2020 world champion had stuck with used tyres throughout and was testing without the benefit of race weekend knowledge, due to a neck injury in Friday practice.

But for the first time since climbing onto the Honda a year ago, Mir said clear progress.

“Honestly, I'm very happy. It's the first time I'm able to feel a difference since I arrived [at Honda]. That something really works better,” Mir said.

“With all the wind, it is sometimes difficult to make a proper comparison. But even with this wind, straight away I was able to feel an improvement and that honestly is very good.

“Then in the last part of the day, we focused on trying to make a set up, trying some things in the front part of the bike.

“We didn't do a proper time attack, we just made our day as best we could and there was not enough time to fit everything in. But we have to be happy with the lap times and the pace.

“With used tyres, being in ‘30 low is something that makes me happy. Because it's the lap time that you have to do to be in front. So it's fantastic.”

So how has the 2024 Honda prototype improved over a 2023 machine that finished last in the constructors’ standings and no higher than 14th in the riders’ championship, with Mir’s former team-mate Marc Marquez?

The weight

“What I was able to feel [straight away] is that the bike is lighter,” Mir said.

“So it stops a little bit better, you stress the same [under hard braking] but now you are braking in a different point.

“It helps a little bit also on the turning side… It helps everything that can be improved with a lighter bike. So that is just an advantage.”

The grip

“It looks like the grip, which is something that we complained about during all the year, is better,” Mir said, who indicated that a revised engine character was helping the grip.

The wheelbase

“We tried some things on the set-up, moving the [balance of the] bike. The bike if you see is a little bit bigger than the one before.”

The previous trend was for the Japanese MotoGP bikes to be short and tall, while the European machines (Ducati, Aprilia, KTM) are long and low.

The front end

“I was able to have a better feeling, a better feedback on the front. It's only the first test, but it's true that [Valencia] is a track where you request a lot of the front.”

What’s next?

Due to the improved grip, Mir now feels the traction control electronics can be tuned to put more control back into the hands of the riders.

“The type of electronics that we had this year, I think we can do something with [for the future],” Mir said.

“It’s one of the things that I request for Sepang [test, in February]. There's margin to do that now that the grip is a little bit better [from the engine].

“If we have more control in the hands [of the riders] it’s an advantage. It’s what I was doing with the Suzuki and at the end of the races, I was able always to be strong for this, not just trusting in the electronics.

“So we are working on that with the used tyres, which is the proper thing to do. We made some steps and, yeah, I am able to see a reaction inside the box.”

Mir has swapped sides in the Repsol Honda garage and will be working with Marc Marquez’s former crew, headed by Santi Hernandez, in 2024. New team-mate Luca Marini will work with Mir’s former crew chief Giacomo Guidotti.

As part of the new concessions ranking system, Honda and Yamaha race riders will be eligible to take part in the Sepang Shakedown test, before the official test.