UPDATE: The next day, Hayden clarified some of the information he had given, saying that the 'carbon front frame' was actually part aluminium while the lap time was not as he had thought... However it was still some 0.6s quicker than a Ducati qualified at Jerez this year.

Nicky Hayden will leave Ducati at the end of the season wondering what might have been had the factory stuck with a carbon fibre frame for the 1000cc MotoGP era.

While its Japanese rivals have used twin spar aluminium frames for decades, Ducati entered MotoGP with its traditional steel trellis design in 2003.

The engine was initially cradled within the frame (unstressed) before being part of the main load-bearing structure (stressed) by 2007, the year Casey Stoner won the factory's only MotoGP title.

The leap to a carbon fibre front chassis came in 2009 and Stoner took the machine to seven race wins over the next two seasons, before moving to Honda. But with no other riders successful on the design, including Valentino Rossi, Ducati began replacing the carbon fibre with aluminium during the 2011 season.

A full aluminium twin-spar frame was then created for the first year of the new 1000cc category in 2012 and continues in 2013 (pictured). One of the reasons cited for moving away from the carbon fibre chassis was the limited number of rubber options under MotoGP's control tyre regulations, from 2009.

But given the current stalemate in terms of Ducati's performance, Hayden, a factory Ducati rider since 2009, was asked what his approach would be if he was head of Ducati Corse: Take a risk on something different, such as the carbon fibre, or try and go with what is winning. In other words, try and out-Honda, Honda.

"We tried that!" he smiled. "It's difficult - and I was being funny - but it's true. We did that in some regards, but they have much more experience and knowhow with the aluminium frame than us.

"Ducati have said some of their greatest success in Superbike and other areas is when they went their own way. A Ducati is a Ducati and needs to be ridden in its own way. Ducati mechanics trying to copy a Honda won't work. Maybe if you have Honda engineers copying a 'Honda', okay. But I'm a rider, so I'm not sure..."

Hayden then recalled a private test session at Jerez in October of 2011, towards the end of the final season of 800cc racing, when he set a record-breaking pace on an early version of the 1000cc Desmosedici - with the carbon frame.

"The carbon front frame had a lot of potential," Hayden began. "It was a shame I never got to ride that bike again.

"I went to Jerez at the start of the of the 1000cc era, when Valentino broke his finger in Japan [and was unable to test]. At the last minute I went there and really went fast with that bike, had a really good feeling with that bike - and never rode it again.

"Problem was I got hurt at Valencia, broke my hand [missed the Valencia test], and never tested it again. We still talk a lot about that frame, why we never tried it - especially when we go to Jerez and we're not close to that lap time I did there.

"It's frustrating, because sometimes stuff I tested that don't work, they bring back 'okay, let's try again with a different combination'.

"But that was the one bike - I did a 38.1s in Jerez on a day when I was there alone. Pretty fast and pretty good feeling. I asked for it back, but... It was faster than we've gone now, even two years later on the 1000."

The official Jerez pole record is a 1m 38.189s. Pole position for this year's Spanish MotoGP was a 1m 38.673s, set by Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, while Hayden qualified as the top Ducati with a lap time of 1m 39.654s.

The MotoGP regulations allow concessions for any new manufacturers in the form of extra engine changes. In 2010 Suzuki received the same perk, via a rule that allowed three extra engines for any manufacturer that had not won at least two dry races in the previous two seasons.

Hayden feels such rules are fair, but that applying them now to help Ducati would be a 'hand-out'.

"Truthfully I can understand a manufacturer that's coming in, starting from scratch - it's really difficult to jump in and start with Honda and Yamaha. And I think we did it with Suzuki a few years ago, a few advantages.

"I think that's fair, but to be honest I don't really think Ducati have any excuse. I think it'd be a free hand-out to be completely honest and I don't think it would be fair to our competitors if we got something like that."

Hayden starts this weekend's British MotoGP at Silverstone ninth in the world championship with a best finish of fifth.

"I've really been looking forward to this race. I like it and went decent here compared with some other tracks," said the 2006 world champion, who has finished seventh, fourth and fourth at the previous Silverstone events.

Hayden has "no news" regarding his 2014 plans, adding "I don't have a deadline at the moment."

Cal Crutchlow will take Hayden's place, alongside Andrea Dovizioso, at Ducati next season. Dovizioso is seventh in the world championship. Also speaking at Silverstone on Thursday, Crutchlow said that he has been briefed on Ducati's plans for 2014 and what they have in the pipeline.

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