Inside HRC the word for 2019 was that budget cuts were coming to the MotoGP program.
With multiple riders now on the “factory Honda” team (Marquez, Lorenzo, Crutchlow and Takaaki Nakagami are all on the factory payroll now, among others) there was talk that entire hospitality efforts were going to slashed, and that everyone was going to have to made do with less in 2019. HRC internalized more of the Honda WSBK team and those costs were going to come from somewhere.
Jorge “George” Lorenzo has been a factory MotoGP rider for over a decade now. Financially, he was probably set for life by the time he left Yamaha after the 2016 season. However the Ducati years specifically were a gigantic payday for Lorenzo, with the Spanish rider pulling down something like $15 million Euro for each of his two seasons at the Italian manufacturer. Conservatively Lorenzo has seen around $30 million Euro in career earnings, or much more.
Having wealth gives a person freedom and options. Lorenzo was said to be considering retirement after he found just a few options for employment in 2019. Ducati would have signed him, but to a greatly reduced salary.
Instead of retiring or moving to a B-team Yamaha ride, Lorenzo actually slotted in at the factory Honda MotoGP team replacing long time rival Dani Pedrosa. How does it work where an organization looking to cut costs in MotoGP signs one of the highest-paid riders in the MotoGP paddock?
Easy. Lorenzo is already very wealthy. So the prospect of riding the best team and bike in MotoGP made him re-think a few things. Does a guy who values winning more than anything, and ponders his own legacy probably more than any other current MotoGP rider, who is already sitting on tens of millions in Euro, really need the best bike and a huge paycheck?
That’s how it worked. Lorenzo accepted a very minimal salary from Honda (said to be $700,000 Euro, slightly less than rookie Nakagami) and thus finds his nest egg and that financial freedom gives him a welcome foundation to his 2019 season on the RC213V.