Fully fit, with many certainties and few doubts, dressed from head to foot in brilliant red: this is Danilo Petrucci as he arrives in the Losail paddock, ready for the Qatar GP. “I hope to keep this smile on my face all year long” jokes the Italian, following a very positive winter in which he has focused on self-improvement.
“If I have to say how I feel, I'd say confident, more so than last year” he explains. Winter testing went well and his collaboration with Dovizioso is bearing fruit.
“Seeing your name consistently at the top of the timesheets makes you realise you're not that mediocre - he laughs - I'm more aware of my potential and just want to race now”.
He doesn't have long to wait.
“The Qatar race is always strange, because it's as if the championship is starting and finishing on Sunday, there are always great expectations and a lot of pressure - reflects Danilo - It will be important to stay calm and work as we have over the winter. I was the only one to complete a full race simulation here and I know I can be fast. How fast? Last year I finished 5th, logically I want to improve on that position”.
There is another question mark though, that surrounding the flying lap. Qualifying is becoming increasingly important in MotoGP.
“I realised that during the simulation, over the first laps it's better not to stress the tyres and to do that you need to start from the front two rows. I know I have good pace, so I need to focus on this point. In the end, I know I've been dealt good cards”.
Being on the factory team means an increase in responsibility, but Petrucci was also pleased to find a team-mate who can also be an important ally.
“Andrea has helped me, on and off track - he emphasises -We've spent a lot of time together, even having dinner together before we left. it's been really useful and has helped me to change, also in my day to day life. Many small details that, put together, lead to better results. One of my defects was to be impatient, to want to show everything, right away, now I give it my all but without putting pressure on myself. 2019 could be my best or worse season in MotoGP, it's up to me."
Danilo has also improved his physical condition, doing away with the fad diets he was used to.
"I've changed my way of training and eating - he reveals - Dovi has helped me in this area too, advising me to focus more on quality and less on quantity. Last year I was eating very little and training a lot, I found I was so tired that the race would come as an opportunity to relax. I would also get up late, while I now set my alarm for 6am, have a good breakfast and complete shorter but more intense workouts. Basically, I've changed my metabolism and feel stronger”.
The winter has transformed Danilo, and on Sunday he'll have change to demonstrate just how much he's changed.