Ducati has maintained its (almost) total unbeaten run at the Red Bull Ring - only one win out of 7 has gone to KTM, with Oliveira, last year - but rookie Jorge Martin's success in the Styrian GP – irrespective of the way it looks - cannot make the Ducati men completely happy. At least in the short term…
Because while it is true that Gigi Dall'Igna might have found a jolly card for the future with a rider who returned after 7 fractures and three operations following his Portugal crash and who, for this reason, has only competed in five and a half Grands Prix, in the present it is losing ground from Yamaha and Fabio Quartararo.
The numbers, then, do not add up: in fact, while in the Constructors' championship the Rossa is only 8 points down on the tuning-fork manufacturer, in the Riders’ one the gap after 10 Grands Prix has risen to 40 points. It gets worse: the best Ducati rider in the standings is Johann Zarco of the Pramac team, because Francesco Bagnaia is 58 points from the top, also behind Mir (-51), while Jack Miller is even worse after the last race and is forced to play catch-up at -72.
It's true that there are still 7 races left and anything can happen, but if El Diablo continues to maintain this pace - only in Jerez, Spain, was he almost stopped by compartment syndrome while he was still going very strong - the Ducati riders who continue to run on alternating current, stealing points from each other, will have little hope of catching him.
The fact is that potentially each of them is a winning rider, but while Bagnaia and Zarco still have to score a win with the Desmosedici, from 'Martinator' we can only expect him to produce more of what he is already doing, while Jackass is accumulating too much of a disadvantage: consistency is not his strong point.
In the end, Ducati has a team with four good strikers, but none of them currently bear the stigmata of The One. Martin, perhaps, is the one we can expect more from in the future, but it is really too early to say that the new Stoner has been found in Borgo Panigale after so many years.
In the meantime, and here is a further anomaly if you wish, the best Ducati rider, irrespective of the fact that he still hasn't scored a win in a Grand Prix, is Johann Zarco. Obviously in Bologna they will do everything possible to help him maintain and if possible, improve his position, but will the sponsors of the factory team be happy if at the end of the year they are overtaken by a satellite team after having invested so much to be in the official team?
Furthermore, our impression is that Zarco is – out of the four riders – the one on whom they are betting the least in Bologna…
However, Ducati is a bit of a case apart with its satellite team: Pramac's engineers are in fact all men from Borgo Panigale but believe us: manufacturers never like it when their 'B' teams cross the finish line in front of them. Just like last year, Yamaha could not help but turn up their noses over the victories of Quartararo and Morbidelli.
Unlike Yamaha, which in 2022 will revolutionize the team with the confirmation of Fabio and the arrival of Franco Morbidelli, leaving Petronas in search of two – yes, two - new riders, the hierarchies in Ducati will remain unchanged however way this championship pans out. So basically it could even happen that, in case of further improvement, Gigi Dall'Igna might have his top rider in the Pramac team.
Diving in a little deeper into things, however, it was a completely unexpected variable that messed up the plans of the Red National Team: the restart caused by the accident between Pedrosa and Savadori forced Bagnaia to fit a new tire – one of the so-called, 'already heated' ones - which are usually used on Friday mornings. And since the sacred texts say that bringing the tires up to temperature gives them the final bit of ‘cooking’, the subsequent cooling-down and re-heating would seem to compromise their performance. A fact largely refuted by Michelin which guarantees performance stability, but which could easily be resolved by not allowing the use of pre-heated tires for races and pole positions.
After all, when more than one rider complains, one can tell – in pure Poirot style – that 'two coincidences make a clue' … and this has to be taken into account.