Andrea Dovizioso believes Ducati is moving in a good set-up direction ahead of 2016 after completing his second post-season test in Jerez, but still feels the performance of Michelin's front tyre “will not be enough” in its current state.
Along with team-mate Andrea Iannone, Dovizioso put an evolution of the Ducati GP15 he raced at the close of the season through its paces on Friday, after several satellite teams had made steady headway on electronics set-up on Wednesday and Thursday.
While not chasing a fast one-off lap time, the 29-year old was just 0.1s slower than Iannone at the close of the afternoon, and went on to say that while the potential of Michelin's front is high, its character and consistency of behaviour remains an issue.
“Interesting,” was how Dovizioso responded when asked how his day had gone. “We did some set up and fortunately already Team Pramac and Avintia have tested, so we already had the feedback from them. We were able to try some important set up to understand for next year and it's interesting, because we improved the feeling compared to Valencia.
“Still, is not easy to manage the tyre, I mean the potential is good, the grip is very good, but to manage the movement and to stay on the limit every corner is very, very difficult on the front. So sure will not be enough for the season, but what we tried today is in a good direction, so I hope to continue like this.”
After Ducati riders Michele Pirro and Eugene Laverty both endured terrifying front-end falls on Thursday Dovizioso continued that although he didn't feel the tyre suffering a drop in performance, it was how is acts under heavy braking and when touching the throttle at maximum lean angle that requires the greatest adjustment.
“It's the same in every track. We already tried, the characteristic is exactly the same. It doesn't matter the compound, the rubber. This is the characteristic of the tyre. We have a lot of grip on the rear, we can be really fast, but it's not easy to manage the front. On braking, with braking, but also the critical point is when you touch the throttle. At maximum angle, when you unload the front, it's easy to lose the front.
“That's why it's not easy to manage, and we have to understand if we can improve this feeling. Overall, you have a good feeling when you ride, but you don't understand everything that happens. So sometimes you can crash like this, that's why for us it's very important to understand if we can manage this, or is just for everybody the same, and just the rider have to manage the characteristics.”
The Italian, who climbed the premier class podium on five occasions in 2015, also feels it is too early to say which team or manufacturer is best placed to deal with the raft of technical changes. Nevertheless, he feels the potential for Ducati at this time is promising.
“I think the key point will be to manage the front tyre. Because many riders, also in Valencia, were quite fast, but to do the race is different. And especially there were many crashes in Valencia, but also here. During the weekend, you can't push and crash as you want, because it will affect the weekend.
“So until we are not in the weekend, I think it's not easy to understand the level of everybody, and who will be very strong in the race. In the weekend, yes, but in the race is different. So still is too early to understand the level of everybody, and I think there is quite a big margin to improve the bike. Because already today improve a lot, we understood that one thing we tried is in a good direction, so nine days next year before the first race will be a lot to work and improve the bike.”
Both he and Iannone worked through chassis and electronics changes during the afternoon. Dovizioso was insistent that his team had made a step in the weeks between the Valencia test and Jerez, but revealed the new electronics require a different riding style mid-corner.
“We didn't have any big problem, but it's different from what we use before. So you have to ride very smoothly, especially in the middle of the corner when you have the maximum angle. There is less control than what we used before, so especially for the race, I think it will affect. Not for the lap time, or for the fastest lap, but for the race, to control the tyre, the consumption, will affect everybody.
“We improve a little bit but the important point was to understand the way to improve, so a little bit we understand one way to improve, but will be not enough, I think. But the tests we did in Valencia, and these three days of Ducati will be very important to spend two months before we go to Malaysia studying all the data to be ready and to try.”