All of MotoGP’s 2020 rookies had their first seasons in the premier class completely upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the campaign to start in July and take in just nine tracks across 14 races.
Binder proved one of the breakout stars of 2020, scoring a sensational maiden win for himself and KTM in just his third start in last year’s Czech Grand Prix.
He scored another win in 2021 after a heroic gamble to stay on slicks on a wet track at the end of the flag-to-flag Austrian GP, but that was the only highlight of a largely difficult year on an inconsistent KTM package.
Despite only qualifying five times inside the top 10, Binder’s race craft meant he salvaged 11 top 10 results to end the year sixth in the standings.
“This season has been a massive challenge,” Binder began.
“We’ve had some ups and downs this season, but in general it’s been a lot tougher than what we thought we’d have.
“The way we finished last season, we expected to come into this year feeling a lot more prepared and a lot more ready.
“But the reality was we were just a tiny bit slower than we needed to be.
“That really made life a lot more difficult going forward. I think we’ve done the best job we could have and we’re ready to make improvements.”
When asked if felt this year was basically an extension of his rookie season, he added: “In a way, I think so because not just new tracks.
“But if you look at it, I only really had six months on the MotoGP bike last year and it’s not enough really.
“I felt at the beginning of this season I wasn’t riding as well as I wanted to and was still making a lot of mistakes, whereas the second half of the year – even though it’s been a little bit more difficult – I feel my riding has been much better and I’ve always been bringing home the maximum possible on the day.
“So, I’m happy with the steps we’ve made.
“We had such big expectations for ourselves before arrived to Qatar, and as things fell short of our expectations it was difficult to really understand why and what’s going on.
“But I think we did a good job in the second half of this year in finding out where we need to improve, what our weak and what our strong points are.”