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...”