It might not be particularly satisfying, but if Marquez is one step away from his 7th title (his 5th in MotoGP), he has Dovizioso to thank. Conspiracy theorists need not worry, Andrea's help came involuntarily, but it is nevertheless significant. Following his head to head with the Italian in the 2017 championship, Marc has done his homework, carefully studying his rival's strategy.
"When I'm at home, over the winter, I like to carefully analyse why a rider's won the title or why he's lost - explains Marquez in an interview with motogp.com - Last year I learned a lot from one particular rider, and that was Dovizioso”.
How can a champion further improve on his performance?
“I've learned how to manage any situation, Andrea is able to focus solely on his work in the garage and forget everything else - he replies - This makes his approach to the race and the weekend a little easier. It's something he does very well and I've analysed it carefully, even copying him in some ways this year. This season I've focused on race pace, because that's the most important thing with the Michelins. You cannot forget about getting straight into Q2 either, and completing a qualifying that allows you to start from the front, but a fast lap is easy, the important thing is to have clear ideas about tyres and set-up before the race”.
It looks as if Dovi's strategy is also working for the Spaniard.
“During the first part of the season, I was able to use this type of strategy but in recent races I've put in new tyres already in the first or second practice, because everyone has grown, particularly Ducati, and it's easy to be left out of Q2” he points out.
Many believe the Desmosedici to be the best bike on the grid, Marquez seeing the glass half full in this regard.
“Already after winter testing I expected the Ducati to be more competitive, but both Dovizioso and Lorenzo have made mistakes. I have a bigger advantage than I had last year, but Andrea and Jorge are faster. Honda has reacted because it wants to have the best bike and win all the races, so it has worked to improve all year long”.
Alberto Puig's arrival as team manager has been welcomed by Marc.
“Puig was a rider and I can ask his advice about trajectories and strategy. I like him because he's very direct and sincere”.
Next year will bring another important change, the arrival of a certain Lorenzo.
“Jorge's arrival is very important to Honda because he's a very strong rider, a champion, as he says, who can win with your bike and not with that of a rival. Personally, I prefer to have a fast rider on the same bike as me, because if I lose I'll have no excuses” he concludes.