After day one of practice at Magny-Cours, Alvaro Bautista, rather than being asked about how things went on track, found himself answering questions about his future. His move to Honda is the big market news this year and many ducatisti haven't taken it well. Starting with big boss Claudio Domenicali who, in a vitriolic tweet, claims that the Spaniard didn't accept a two-year, 6 zero contract because he wanted more.
When this is mentioned to him, Alvaro bursts out laughing. “I read the message, very nice! I prefer not to comment".
And so why did you opt for Honda? Some say you are crazy and stupid to do so following your success in Ducati.
“I did it because I'm crazy and stupid! (he laughs). I'm happy with my team, I feel good and have always tried to do my best, and with Honda I will do the same, trying to be as competitive as I've been this season”.
When did you make the decision?
“After the Laguna Seca race, during the summer break. I promised you that you'd know my future by Magny-Cours and I was true to my word”.
And money had no bearing on your decision?
“It's difficult to explain without upsetting someone, but my decision wasn't based on money. You have to weigh it all up and consider what's best for you. Anyway, I am still a Ducati Aruba rider until the end of the year, for details you'll have to wait for 2020”.
Have you already seen the new CBR? Will you be able to test it over the winter?
“I've only seen the pictures published on the internet, but I think they're fake (he laughs). Yes, I'll be able to test it, Ducati has given permission”.
Back to the track, how did it go today?
“It wasn't the best day for riding (he laughs)”.
You also crashed…
“I lost the rear in a really strange way. Usually, when it starts to slide, I close the throttle and can complete the corner, but this time the wheel continued to slide and I practically went round in a circle. Luckily, I didn't hurt myself. Perhaps I hadn't run the tyre in well enough, I hadn't been leaning that much until that point, and it happened. The grip isn't great in the wet here”.
Why didn't you go out in FP2?
"This morning I realised that this is an easy track to learn and in the afternoon, in heavy rain, I preferred to stay in the garage. In those conditions it would have been easy to have problems, maybe not a crash, but some brusque movement at least and my shoulder isn't 100% yet so I preferred not to risk it. Also because the forecast for tomorrow looks better”.
Davies has some updates for the Panigale, and you?
“I have nothing new this weekend. I think Chaz has used different parts to me during the whole season, because he had problems with the bike. I don't know if we're talking about that material or if he has updates ahead of next year”.
Audio recorded by Riccardo Guglielmetti