Ducati’s last season reminds us a bit of Yamaha in 2000, when the Iwata manufacturer had four leading riders: Max Biaggi, the surprising Garry McCoy, Carlos Checa and Norifumi Abe.
Overall, Yamahas got on the podium 17 times, with respectively three wins for McCoy, two for Biaggi and one for Abe but in the overall standings they went no better than third place with the Roman rider, in the year - coincidentally - of the victory of Kenny Roberts Jr. with Suzuki.
Also on that occasion, after Alex Criville's success with Repsol Honda in 1999, Biaggi, who finished second in 1998 and fourth in 1999, like Dovizioso in Ducati was one of the favourites. But things went differently.
The reasons: a bit of confusion in development, especially, because while McCoy's Yamaha satellite team started using Michelin 16.5" tyres at the rear, modifying the suspension geometry to adapt the bike, the same modification was not granted to the more restrictive factory team.
With the help of six bikes on the starting grid, Ducati this year got on the podium in eight of the 14 rounds, more than any other manufacturer. But the podiums for each rider were rare: Jack Miller achieved four and was the best, then two for Dovizioso and one each for Petrucci with victory in France, Francesco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco.
Ducati, eight podiums in 14 Grands Prix with five different riders
At the end of the championship, Ducati was' rewarded 'with the Constructors' championship title but even though rules are rules and must be respected, there is no doubt that the title came about due to the disqualification imposed on Yamaha for its engine issue.
The result is that for 2021 the Borgo Panigale manufacturer has given a sharp U-turn in its management of the riders by letting go both Dovizioso, who had been with Ducati since 2013, and Petrucci. A decision that has outraged some fans who, perhaps, recalling only the outcome of the 2017-2019 seasons during which the Desmosedici finished behind Marc Marquez's Honda three times, have forgotten the difficult journey that it began with Dovi himself in 2013: an 8th, a 5th, a 7th and another 5th place overall before the triple result that gave the rider from Forlì 12 victories in the world championship (13 with the only one in 2020) which were added to the previous two: the only one with Honda in Donington in the wet in 2009 and the first with the Rossa in 2016 in Malaysia - following the first triumph of the Dall'Igna era achieved at the Red Bull Ring shortly before by Andrea Iannone.
“Covid forced us to have a different championship, one virtually without any tests - underlined Paolo Ciabatti, who joined Ducati at the same time as Dovizioso - practically after Malaysia there were no tests, so as a result it was not easy to adapt to the new tyres. We were competitive, but we always fought for the podium with different riders ”.
That’s true because of the six Ducati riders, including Rabat, the five under contract with Ducati, therefore also Johann Zarco, got on the podium. This can be considered the real success of the season because it showed that the GP19 can be ridden by different riders with different styles.
Nevertheless, the best rider of Italy’s ‘national’ team was once again Dovizioso, 6th overall with 117 points a result he achieved with a championship as usual without errors. Only one zero through no fault of his own, at Barcelona. Was it worth getting rid of him considering that Jack Miller finished in ninth position, 25 points behind?
Dall'Igna: "Three of Jack's retirements were not his fault"
The answer was given by Gigi Dall’Igna himself in our Live broadcast last week.
"It's true, Jack came behind Andrea, but with four zeroes to one. And not all of them were his fault: at Misano Quartararo's tear-off visor ended up in his intake, at Le Mans he had a mechanical problem, while at Aragon he was taken down by Binder ".
This is the reason for Ducati's decision to rejuvenate the factory team with the arrival of Miller and Bagnaia: the desire to have a more aggressive rider in the team, one who is capable of throwing his heart over obstacles and also of riding, if necessary, through the problems. It’s a process that has even been taken to the extreme with the satellite teams given that in 2021 the three MotoGP rookies will all be riding the Desmosedici: Bastianini, Marini and Martin. Which in fact already gives the honorary title of Rookie of the Year to Ducati...
While it is true that Ducati - but Dall'Igna confirmed this to us - already had strong doubts about whether or not to renew the agreement with Dovizioso beyond the eight years spent together, perhaps it was this data that helped to bring about a decision that appeared tough to many, and inappropriate to others.
The generational change, with the recent exit of Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Crutchlow and only a matter of time for Rossi, is now unstoppable.