Honda racing boss Shuhei Nakamoto says a decision on the future of Marco Simoncelli and Andrea Dovizioso is set to be made by the next race in Indianapolis.
Nakamoto had said last month that Honda was set to reduce its budget for next year, meaning the Japanese manufacturer is likely to have just two works bikes in 2012. He said only Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner were likely to get works rides.
Honda currently has three works bikes with his official team, but gives the same equipment to Gresini's Simoncelli. Nakamoto said he is not entirely happy with the performance of the Italian riders, but insisted Honda will do all it can do retain them, with a decision expected in two weeks' time.
"I'm not happy about them," Nakamoto was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport. "Marco goes well in qualifying, but then he's had some problems in the races. Andrea has improved, he's third in the championship, but he's not at the top yet. We want to win and at the moment they aren't winning.
"We want to hold on to them and we'll try to, even though these are difficult times. For sure, as a racing department, there will be a decrease to our budget, which will be defined in September. But we can't wait that long: we need to find an agreement by Indianapolis. We'll talk to Simoncelli and Dovizioso and we'll try to keep them. We have no preference, because they both have positive and negative sides."
Nakamoto said Gresini would have to pay to have another works bike from next season, and he suggested a German rider, believed to be Moto2 championship leader Stefan Bradl, will also get a ride with Honda next year.
"We can give Gresini a second bike, but he needs to pay for it. By contract we need to field two bikes, but we'd like to build four, in fact they'll almost certainly be five. The fifth will be ridden by a German-speaking rider. If someone asks we could build up to six bikes."