Brno was supposed to be the beginning of the comeback for Ducati and for Andrea Dovizioso, the rider designated to become Marquez's heir in 2020. The first two rounds at Jerez had produced some difficulties, but also an acceptable haul of points, which would surely have been boosted by Brno and the Red Bull Ring. At least this is what everyone expected, including Dovizioso and Ducati. Too bad that the reality was totally different, bringing to light something that was difficult to imagine before the start of this 2020 world championship.
Ducati, at least with the three riders who theoretically should have represented an enviable three-pronged line-up, is suffering a lot and has not yet found the way to interpret the new Michelins. In the specific case of Andrea Dovizioso, you can add to that the not exactly relaxed atmosphere that reigns in the garage, due to the ongoing contract renewal negotiations, and the result is a problem whose solution is a distant and faded silhouette on a not very reassuring horizon. Just listen to Dovizioso's words at the end of the Czech Republic Grand Prix, in which he finished in 11th position, to understand the extent of the problem. But ahead lies Austria, a track that should be a real ‘home’ GP for the Borgo Panigale bike and for Dovizioso.
"Before Brno we should have kicked everyone’s ass here and we finished 11th - commented Dovizioso without worrying too much about the language - so making predictions today doesn't really make sense, on the contrary it's completely out of place. We must first understand what is happening, find me the person who right now understands what is happening. As a result, we try to stay calm and study the data, because this approach always pays off. Fortunately, Pecco was strong in Jerez while Zarco was strong here, so let's study their data and try to understand. Maybe Thursday in Austria before starting the weekend I will have some more answers ".
At least there is no lack of ideas…
"I have some ideas, but we will have to study the data collected here a lot. This is the second time that a Ducati rider who uses a different set-up and has a different style finishes ahead of us or goes faster than us. I want to read the data well to confirm my ideas. Everything we have done in the tests and what we have done during these races, all the modifications to the bike, are the result of the experience gathered in the last three years, years in which we seem to have achieved good results. We have changed the bike a lot in recent years, we have achieved the results we wanted, we have improved in many areas. But now nothing works and this is the really strange thing ".
Is it a situation that will make you change your working method?
"Before we checked the data and based on that, we made changes that worked. Now we proceed in the same way and it doesn't work. Having confirmation of this also here after Jerez, confirms that we do not have the situation completely under control. The Ducati riders who are strong today, Pecco and Johann, use a completely different set-up from the one we used to use when we had the problems we have today. Even in their way of riding, they do things differently. I will study their data very well. It is unacceptable for me to waste time under braking, I have always been the best in that area, while now if I compare Pecco's laps in Jerez and Zarco's here with mine, I see that I lose tenth after tenth under braking. It's unacceptable. I take the bike to the limit and it doesn't work. Now we are slow out of corners and we are not effective in braking and these are the two areas where we were fast in the past, so we are worried. "
So, is it your great experience in part that represents something of a problem?
"Jack, Danilo and I have a lot of experience with this bike and we have more or less the same problems. Pecco and Zarco have less experience and I think that's why they are better than us, because they don't have a 'wrong' basis from which to start. I'm not the kind of rider who says: 'I ride like this and you have to do something for me.' I know how to adapt; I've always done it. But at the moment we still have to understand what really doesn't work, we will work hard because the situation is very unstable for everyone, especially for Ducati. We have made many changes, far too many in 2020, but they are not giving us the answers we would have expected. In recent years we have always improved, now we cannot and this is the point. If we don't understand how to exploit our strengths, I don't know where we will go ".
According to Zarco his speed also depends on the fact that he has never tried the Ducati with the previous Michelins, so he has an approach not conditioned by the past. Do you share this point of view?
"Yes, what Zarco said makes sense. All the changes we are making do not work, we have never been really fast except in the tests in Qatar and only on the race pace. In no other situation have we been competitive. The experience of the last three years weighs a lot, because you tend to try things that worked in the past. Probably this is the thing that has limited us, now nothing is working. Until I see data that tells me that I lose under braking, which also happened today, and then it means that I have to go in a different direction for the set-up than the one we expected. Maybe it's the tyre that requires it, it's strange. Today Vinales finished behind me. "
Can this situation be linked at all to the differences between the 2019 and the 2020 bikes?
"The bikes of 2019 and 2020 are very similar. It would be great if that were the problem. The problem is the Michelin tyre, which pushes a lot and doesn't work like the previous one. We are modifying a lot of things, I'm using a different style, but for now it still doesn't work. I have to work on the set-up of the bike, I'm not the type to use excuses, but just look at my data to find out how many times I lock up the front. This means I'm at the limit, and if it doesn't work, I have to work in another way. When the rear tyre drops for you as for everyone and you are also forced to brake in the middle of the corner, you finish eleventh ".
Do you already know which starting base you will use in Austria?
"In Austria we will start first with the same bike as here, but we will immediately make some changes to really understand if they work. Michelin does its job and brings the tyres, then it's up to us to understand them and interpret them in the best possible way. Their duty is to provide us as much data as possible and they already do that. The rest is up to us ".