Lecuona was drafted in to replace Brad Binder at Tech3 for 2020 when the South African was promoted to replace Johann Zarco at the factory KTM squad.
But Lecuona – then 19 – had only made his circuit racing debut in 2015 after a formative career in supermotard, and by the start of the 2020 season had contested 89 fewer grands prix than Binder.
With his 2020 debut season ending three races from the end due to COVID-19 and only consisting of 11 grands prix at seven tracks, Lecuona spent much of 2021 still learning – with the 2021 RC16 proving less competitive.
At just 21, Lecuona has been ousted from MotoGP and will be replaced by KTM’s latest young star Raul Fernandez – who steps up to the premier class after just a single season in Moto2 in which he was runner-up to Remy Gardner, who will also join Tech3.
When asked by Autosport if he felt KTM’s approach to its young riders currently was the right one, Lecuona said: “If I’m honest, I think it’s not correct.
“I think it’s not correct, because if you believe in one rider you believe in them for one, two, three, four years.
“You can believe in the rider, but you still need to give the rider this time, this window to adapt, to improve.
“With one year, if you say to the rider ‘you need to be there’ or you put pressure… everybody needs time to adapt.
Iker Lecuona, KTM Tech3
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“And I think in this case, they wanted to take a very young rider and wanted them to go fast with a very difficult bike.
“It’s not a Ducati, it’s not a Yamaha bike. We worked during these two years, some races I could go fast, or KTM can go fast, but many races the four KTMs were the last ones.
“And it’s not because I am a better rider one week before or one week after, it’s because this bike is very difficult to understand and is very difficult to work.
“If you don’t give them the time, you cannot do nothing.”
Lecuona – who will join Honda next year as a factory World Superbike rider – believes MotoGP rookies face a tougher challenge now because of competitive the field is.
“Now the level in MotoGP is very high,” he added.
“In a lot of tracks, we go very fast and many times I’m in P15 and I’m seven tenths [off the pace] in a MotoGP with six factories [competing].
“So, with completely different bikes we are in the same second. So, the level is very high.
“So, it’s not because you are 15th that you go slow. You are seven tenths from the first one.
“I think never we’ve had this in MotoGP. If you check, I don’t know, five years before, if you finished one second [back] you finished on the podium.
“Right now if you stay one second [off the pace] you stay the last one on the grid.”