They're racing for a second place by now. And that's not too great a thing. Before Ducati (that would have continued fighting), it's riders gave up first because, despite occupying the second and third places in the championship, they're the first to be defeated.
More often we've been hearing them say at Borgo Panigale that without Marquez they would have been first and second in the league. But saying this doesn't count because this would be tantamount to making a list of boxers who could have been heavyweight world champions if the Mike Tyson era had never existed.
Instead, the idea that even these positions are anything by established, actually began to meander in Dovizioso's and Petrucci's minds.
Danilo is the one who's worrying most, seeing his third place undermined by Alex Rins who, despite having three zeros in the standings, is behind him with just 2 points. A minor matter.
For his part, Andrea, is a bit calmer because Petrucci is at -31 and Rins at -33, while Vinales and Rossi are even more distant, with Vale at -53. But what's also true is that there are still five Grand Prix races left and in that pile, anything and everything can happen.
However, it would have still been a good championship... without Marquez, but the comparison between the Honda rider and his rivals is unforgiving. Even without the two accidents in which he was involved, knocked down by Lorenzo in Barcelona and by Quartararo in Silverstone, Dovizioso would, in fact, still be far behind, considering that Marc also has a zero. So what can change in 2020, with all the teams that have two-year contracts signed and their riders convinced that Marquez is from another league and cannot be beaten.?
Like with Iron Mike, we're all here waiting for that "great white hope" who'll be able to knock Marquez out. A young fighter who is still without fear (or paralyzed by it?) and the missiles the king of the MotGP launches at him: Fabio Quartararo. A great rookie that Yamaha has the honor of making the most of despite the fact it has a heavy weight burdened with glory on its first team, Valentino Rossi, along with a young man who has not completely respected its expectations, Maverick Vinales. Will he be up to it?
Not only will the team have to guarantee that the young French rider receives equal opportunities with the two official, but by the end of 2020, it might be forced to throw one from the tower so that its rough diamond doesn't risk being stolen away. And things aren’t downplayed by saying that all they need is a Yamaha to win. Yamaha wants to see the official team win. And so do the sponsors.
We expect the negotiations between Fabio and the Iwata team to start very soon. If they haven't already started.
This means a very early riders market, where Ducati will obviously also be involved, and where it will have to hurry to improve its human resources. The hunt is open, but that magnificent prey is difficult to capture because it's not just a question of money even if, taking into account what is spent on building and developing a motorcycle, there are already those who wonder whether 15 million Euros would be enough, as a chip, to convince Marc to sit at the negotiating table.