Rossi: this isn't the Ducati I wanted
A year has passed since Valentino Rossi saw the red lights go out for the first time from behind the windscreen of a Ducati. It was his debut on a bike that he never really loved, so much so that he later declared, "I understood during the first test, after just a few laps, the I couldn't win the first race." Indeed, last season at Qatar he finished 7th, with a gap of 16”431 to Stoner, for whom he took over at Ducati. It seemed like an eternity, but things would only get worse as the season wore on, eventually convincing the boys at Ducati to completely revolutionize their MotoGP project. Tonight, using the umpteenth chassis variation, the race went even worse: 10th place and 33”665 behind the winner, this time Lorenzo, last of the Ducati riders and second to last of the MotoGP prototypes.
Afterwards the Doctor was clearly dejected and, what's worse, he seems to have lost faith: "We ran out of hope last season. When Barbera passed me, with a hard move that pushed me into the runoff area, he had only one objective: getting in front of me. The actually race position didn't matter. I even thought about pulling into the pits and finishing my race there, but I kept going only out of respect for my team members, and to collect useful data." The GP12 isn't to his liking, as was the case with the 11 and 11.1, and for the first time he even distanced himself from its design. "Ducati didn't follow the direction that I indicated, but I'm not an engineer and I can't solve every problem."
That both Barbera and Hayden were faster is of little interest to him. "It wouldn't have changed much to finish sixth. This certainly isn't an appealing result for me, and I'm aiming at least for the podium." Something which seems well out of reach for the moment. "I'm not able to ride the bike as I like. I'm faster on used tires than on new. The rear is pushing a lot, and things only improve slightly when the tires start to slide. I have no confidence, and I can't even get ahead of Hayden, who gave everything he had to finish 28 seconds behind the leader."
And with this, the polite, professional courtesy between the Italian rider and Italian marque has come to an end. "The problems with the bike haven't changed, and neither have my requests. It's unrideable, and it doesn't make much difference what track we are on. I'm not able to enter the corners hard on the brakes, and we can't hope the situation will change completely with the new Bridgestone tires. These aren't problems you can solve with setup alone." Either the rider adapts to the bike, or the bike is again adapted to the rider. Ducati are at a crossroads.