"The Ducati? It's not yet as competitive as it appears. But they've done well to take Jorge Lorenzo".
So says Simone Battistella, manager to Andrea Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista, and therefore well positioned to know about the Italian manufacturer's secrets.
Cordial, relaxed, a rider management style that is the complete opposite of that of Carlo Pernat for example. The Italian manager has lived in London for many years and is currently working on two fronts to ensure that his charges can continue with the agreements linking them to the two Italian manufacturers. But it's Ducati, divided beween the two Andreas, Dovi and Iannone, that interests us here.
"Ducati a winner? Yes, perhaps - comments Battistella - if we still had the Bridgestones certainly, but now we have the Michelins and there are still many small things to resolve. They need more mileage and more races. The winner is, I think, the Yamaha, the best bike of the bunch because they have always made small evolutions to it, without turning things upside down. The result is a very balanced bike".
The Manager is not wrong. So has Ducati done well to employ Jorge Lorenzo or not?
"Yes, of course it's done well! - Battistella nods vigorously - He is a serial winner. Ducati as a team had to do it, to see how it stands up with someone who is used to winning".
Does that mean the two Andreas haven't given it their all until now?
"On the contrary, I think they're giving all they can".
We know that Dovi is a talented test rider. This means that he's not only of interest to Ducati but is also to Suzuki and KTM. But is the older Andrea ready to make another change?
"Andrea is aware of his abilities and sure of his methods. He has regained great positivity during the winer and in fact, incidents aside, he's started the season very well".
With Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo in place, there's a lot of talk about Maverick Vinales.
"He's strong but overestimated with respect to the current market conditions. There are very few valid young riders. This is also true for Alex Rins. Right now there are three bands of riders, the top guys, who are aged 30 and above, Iannone who's 27 and then under him everyone else. The only really strong young rider is in fact Marc Marquez. Extremely fast and now able to control himself and manage the situation".
So what's the key to the market?
"There's not just one key, there are many factors involving many riders and many teams. It's for this reason that there are no deadlines right now".
Sure, but certain teams could bring the offers down. What would happen in this case?
"To create a top team you need two top riders. So if the deal offered is too low it means that the team has somehow got its figures wrong".