A second place that, in the end, despite everything, seems like a joke. After yesterday's pole position, Marc Marquez seemed to have the race in hand, to put an end to Ducati's domination in Austria, which has been going on since 2016, when the MotoGP race started again on the wonderful Zeltweg track.
"The big mistake was the choice of tires," said Marquez. "I chose the medium but, in the last few laps, I didn't have enough grip. That's where Dovi won the race."
That's right, Dovi won again (a second success for him at the Red Bull Ring), and Marquez was, for the third consecutive time, relegated to second place just a few thousandths behind the winner. And to think that, this year, at the final turn, Marquez had reached the lead, just like Dovi in 2017, but Andrea managed to launch an attack with little chance of replication, leaving the Spanish champion stunned.
"I started the last lap in the lead to defend myself because I knew I couldn't attack if I was behind," Marc said . "I expected the attack on the last corner, but I didn't know how to defend myself: whether to go outside or inside. Then I tried to brake hard and cross over, just like he did in 2017 and, for a moment, when Dovi touched me, breaking the brake cover of my front brake, I even thought I was going to fall. My rear tire had dropped a lot, and I couldn't brake as hard as I wanted. I must say that Dovi was really good."
But second place is a good result here at Zeltweg and, above all, it doesn't make you lose points for the championship.
"Yes, I'm happy because I still have 58 points ahead of Dovizioso in the rankings," continued Marquez. "I never said that winning this world championship would have been easy, but I must say that I feel very strong. When I struggle, I come a second behind the winner, and second place is my worst result if we leave out my fall in Austin. I have to keep working like this to secure the championship. Now we're in circuits where Dovi and Ducati are stronger."
Of course, winning the Red Bull Ring here for the first time wouldn't have been bad at all...
"I planned to win the championship, not the individual races, and I learned that if you celebrate in Valencia, nobody remembers where you lost, until you return to that circuit the following year. The problem is that we're used to winning every weekend, but you can't always think of succeeding."
The gap with Ducati, in terms of engines, seems to have narrowed. How does the Ducati still make you suffer on this circuit?
"We're pretty similar to the Ducati in engines, but their tire worked better. Ours was skidding a lot. I put myself behind Dovi in mid-race, but I thought he had more. I knew I was going to lose in the final laps, so I wanted to get up front to see what would happen. I only had a very slight chance. I was at the limit. My goal was to race with a group as small as possible, while I think Dovi wanted to wear me down."
What would it have taken to win?
"I don't know if the soft would have changed anything," Marc said. "I tried to get a good pace, but I really struggled. The medium worked better than the soft in Friday's practice. Today it didn't. "t's all a matter of temperature. The new frame works really well, especially on a track like this one."
This weekend, one of the topics of discussion was the market, with Jorge Lorenzo who seemed very close to returning to Ducati but who, for now, should be returning to Silverstone with Honda. How is he going to approach his second half of the season, also considering the team rankings?
Jorge will come to Silverstone with the right mentality," Marc concluded . "Obviously, I'm focused on the riders championship, but if there's a possibility, we'll try to win the teams championship, even if Ducati is better placed, since it has its two second and third riders in the world rankings."
Audio recorded by Paolo Scalera