Jorge Lorenzo must adapt to a different kind of pressure, after switching from underdog to MotoGP title favourite in the space of one weekend.
That's the view of 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden, one of only three riders to beat Valentino Rossi to a premier-class title since 2000.
Lorenzo and Fiat Yamaha team-mate Rossi were separated by just nine points heading into Mugello, but Rossi's leg breaking accident meant Lorenzo left the Italian Grand Prix 25 points clear of Dani Pedrosa.
Hayden was in a similar situation, in terms of having a sizeable early-season points lead, during 2006 - although on that occasion he still had Rossi hunting him down.
“Rossi being out changes a lot for Lorenzo. It's a completely different mentality now,” Hayden told Crash.net
. “He came into the season as a bit of an underdog up against Rossi. Now it's basically his title to lose.
“There's going to be a lot more pressure on him. He knows that. Be interesting to see how he deals with it. I think he's still got to try and win races. Four races in it'd be silly to start riding too cautiously, especially the way our points are. It rewards winning races.”
On the broader issue of Rossi's temporary exit, Hayden commented: “It definitely makes it interesting. A little bit more wide open and a little bit more unpredictable. It'll be missing something without Rossi though, because he is a legend.”
Hayden and Lorenzo will be back in action at this weekend's British MotoGP at Silverstone, while Rossi won't return until Brno, in mid-August, at the earliest.