If ever Valentino Rossi needed a strong performance, it's this weekend at round two of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship at Jerez in Spain.

Having gone public with criticism of Ducati after struggling to tenth place from twelfth on the grid (and last of the manufacturer bikes) in the Qatar season-opener, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive about a possible divorce.

Rossi's contract, like those of all the leading MotoGP riders, expires at the end of this year and both rider and team have since played down the radical suggestion that he could quit early.

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Gabriele Del Torchio, Ducati president and CEO, referred to Rossi's comments as 'letting off steam'.

But there's no doubt that the seven time MotoGP champion, seventh overall with one podium during his debut season at Ducati, needs to see tangible progress with the Desmosedici project sooner rather than later.

Fun has always been a key racing ingredient for Rossi and losing week-in, week-out on a bike that doesn't seem to respond to his changes isn't much fun.

Ducati can point to a constant stream of modifications, based on Rossi's feedback, since the start of 2011 as proof of their determination to return The Doctor to the top. The fact that Rossi was beaten by other Ducati riders at Qatar also complicates the situation.

When Ducati was regularly winning, with Loris Capirossi (990cc) and then Casey Stoner (800cc), it was the differences in its motorcycle design that were hailed as the key to its success (tyres, engine, frame).

The same view is now working in reverse, with the Desmosedici's main features being compared with those of its Japanese competitors, and the differences branded as faults.

As such, it is Ducati's wide 90-degree V between its cylinders that is increasingly cited as causing the understeer and lack of front-end feel that Rossi has experienced ever since his Valencia 2010 test debut.

That may be true. But it's complicated. If utilising the main design ingredients of a pace-setting rival was a safe path to success, the Kawasaki and Suzuki MotoGP projects should have been much more competitive.

Some say Ducati is too stuck in its ways to make the changes needed, but the company's history in MotoGP (since 2003) contains numerous examples of Filippo Preziosi's design team opting for performance over tradition.

First there was the decision to use a V4 rather than V-Twin engine, then the traditional steel trellis chassis was replaced by carbon fibre, and in turn this year's aluminium twin spar design. An early (2005) switch to Bridgestone tyres also drove a technical divide between Ducati and Honda/Yamaha factory teams, but paid off by the end of the season.

The Desmodromic valve system remains, as well as the 90-degree V, but if an overwhelming performance case was presented it seems reasonable to believe that these would also be replaced.

The rumour is that a new engine, featuring at least a tamer powerband, could be part of the Ducati upgrade package due to debut in a few races time. But having tried so many new parts, Rossi has made clear he won't be pinning his hopes on a single magic cure.

It is, as mentioned, complicated and Honda's ongoing chatter issues underline how difficult it can be to pin-point a handling problem.

All things considered, we want to know if you think the Rossi/Ducati partnership can be made to work or if Rossi will need to switch manufacturers to claim his 80th MotoGP win...

CLICK HERE to vote and explain your reasons below. After voting you will see the current results.