The first rule with Marquez is… never trust him when he promises to remain calm and avoid risks. First free practice further confirmed this, when he saved what could have been a crash by getting his elbow down and getting grip back to the front tyre. “I told you I'd start out with the same mentality as usual- he laughs - The first practice is useful for understanding the limit and your level”.
In the afternoon you didn't go out on the damp asphalt though…
“The truth is my team tied me to the chair, Santi (Hernandez, his crew chief) kept on saying ‘no’ (he laughs). I'm usually quick in those conditions, but I also know I have three consecutive races coming up so it was best not to go out”.
Was that hard?
“It's always great to get out and see your name at the top of the list, it helps you sleep at night. Once upon a time it was more important, now I've changed a little. I've hurt myself during the triple-header in the past, and I don't want to do that again”.
Also because you have a chance to take the title on Sunday…
“I'm relaxed, because I have 4 races in which to try, it doesn't matter whether I win here or somewhere else ”.
You said that in 2016 too…
“Back then, all the planets aligned (both Rossi and Lorenzo crashed out of the race). I'll say it again: this is a track where Ducati and Dovizioso have always been strong”.
Did you have confirmation of that today?
“It's not easy to be sure after just one session but I see Andrea is fast. He set his best time with the medium rear tyre”.
Should we expect another final corner fight?
“Right now, I'd say I'd be lucky to reach the final lap together with Dovizioso, I don't have his pace for the moment. We need to work and had a few ideas after FP1, but then we couldn't test them due to the rain”.
Is it an advantage that Lorenzo is not racing?
“Perhaps for the manufacturer's and teams' title, but aside from that, no. I'm focusing only on Dovizioso, because he's the only one still fighting for the title”.
What does your new helmet represent?
“We created it in collaboration with the guys at Shoei. It's inspired by a local celebration in which each family has its own symbol - we created one for me too”.
A celebration, like the one he hopes to enjoy come Sunday.