Danilo Petrucci can certainly not be particularly enthusiastic about this Friday in Jerez, which did not even give him a chance of booking a place in Q2 tomorrow. Today's sixteenth position in the combined did not reveal the true potential of the GP20 on the Andalusian track, but from a certain point of view it could be worrying in view of the second round of the world championship.
The main problem, however, continues - according to Petrucci – to be the tyre wear of the Michelins, which on the Ducati in these conditions is more marked than on its rivals on the track, in particular the Yamaha, but also to bikes relatively new to the top slots, such as KTM, Danilo's future. Jerez might have been a problem for the Austrian bikes, but in reality, the four orange machines are often up front, representing an additional obstacle for their rivals. This potential could also increase on tracks favourable in theory to Ducati, such as Austria and the Czech Republic.
"KTM has tested at both Brno and in Austria because they have concessions and this certainly gives them an advantage - Petrucci commented - but also here in Jerez we saw that their four riders are all up front. KTM is a manufacturer that has come to play with the top league. Espargarò last week here was a second away from the podium, Binder had a race pace at the level of Quartararo. Oliveira came in front of me, I had Lecuona behind me for a long time so they are certainly going well. They can take advantage of their facilities and certainly represent an additional problem for both Brno and Austria ".
Without considering your rivals, what is your main problem?
"We have problems when braking and when we have to keep the line in the fast corners. Today it seems that there were more problems than the other days and this is a problem because to counter this phenomenon we tend to brake very deep before picking up on the gas and this riding style consumes the tyres a lot. In the first laps there are no problems, but after 5 or 6, at least in my case, they reach temperatures that do not allow me to keep a good rhythm ".
Such a rapid tyre wear also eliminates your benchmarks on the track…
"The problem is that in the race the bike does not stay the same. I always push the same way, but lap after lap I lose speed in the individual sectors. There is no continuity and this aspect is difficult to manage during the race. We must try to exploit our strong points, such as acceleration. But at the moment we are exploiting the tyres too much. If we look at the race pace that I had here last week, I actually went faster in the second part than in the first. But this depends on the fact that in the first part I started to manage the wear and also my strength, because I was quite weak. Of course we still have to learn how to manage the tyre well, but to follow Quartararo or Vinales on the track we need to capitalize on the strong points of our bike, including traction and braking. But we can do this for 4 or 5 laps and not for 25, because it means racing without managing the tyre. The problem is the heat here is creating difficulties for us, we have to learn to lap without stressing the tyre too much ".
Do you think the problem is more the heat or Jerez, historically a difficult track for Ducati?
"In my opinion it is a combination of factors. Jerez has never been a particularly favourable track for us. On Saturday last year I finished free practice in first place, but it was very cool and we could take advantage of the extra grip of the soft tyre. This year the tyres have changed and they certainly have not helped us, they do not meet our needs. The heat then makes them lose grip on the track and this is something that historically does not help us ".
Are you at least physically feeling better than last week?
"I feel much better with my neck, riding the bike is fine. I have to improve; we are all very close together. There are 10 positions in three tenths and tomorrow morning's session will undoubtedly be the key to having a good race. I think 30% of how the race will go will depend on what we do tomorrow morning. FP3 could almost be more important than qualifying because the other week with the time I had in Q1 I would have started in sixth position. Instead I never even got into Q2. This is the current MotoGP format; it is almost more important to start ahead than have a good set-up. We are all very close to the limit ".
What time do you think you will have to do tomorrow to get into Q2?
"Tomorrow it will take a better time than a low 37 to get into Q2. I think the maximum limit will be a 37.1, but we will have to do a high 36. I would like to do it because last year I did it on Saturday."