Mugello saw Casey Stoner's first appearance at a MotoGP since shoulder surgery, following February's Sepang test.

The double world champion and current Ducati test rider certainly picked a good event to attend, being present to witness the team's dream one-two finish in their home grand prix.

Shortly before that race got underway, the Australian answered questions from trackside media on his fitness, predicted that Jorge Lorenzo was 'close enough' to win with Ducati, discussed potential 2019 factory riders, what might have happened if he raced Marc Marquez - and more…

How is the shoulder?

"It's coming along. It's taking longer than I expected, but not longer than the doctors expected. They said it'll take around six months before I can start to put a lot of pressure on it again, so I'm doing everything light at the moment to try and get the movement back. But it takes a long time, after a reconstruction."

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'We know what Jorge's capable of'

"We saw already at the end of last year, he was gaining confidence and getting faster for sure. There's something just missing there, that he's not able to adapt himself quite close enough to the bike.

"But if he finds that little thing he's looking for, we know what Jorge's capable of. So if he can get a little bit more comfortable, I think he just needs a very small thing and then all of a sudden he'll have the pace [to win]."

'Easier to adapt yourself than the bike'

"For sure the Ducati feels heavier than the Yamaha, because almost anybody that comes from Yamaha to any other bike complains it's not as easy to ride as the Yamaha. This is a common recurrence.

"But if it's more physical then you train a little harder. This is what you have to do. If you want to win, you have to train harder than the competitors next to you. You have to work and do everything around it.

"The biggest thing for me is that you can only do so much with the bike. It's a piece of metal and rubber that we're working together with. A little easier to adapt is yourself. So sometimes you just need to change yourself a little bit and your style."

From your experience, is the Ducati more difficult to ride than the Honda?

"At one point it's a little more difficult, but then in other areas it's more stable and gives you more confidence. Clearly it's not such a bad bike to ride. You see Jack Miller coming from there. Dovi has ridden Hondas and Yamahas and now he's the most competitive he's been.

"There are always strengths and weaknesses between all the bikes and you just need to minimise the weakness and really make the most of the strengths of each bike. So Ducati is always going to be particular, but it clearly has a lot of strengths."

In your opinion which has been worse, Rossi or Jorge's time at Ducati (speaking before Sunday's race)?

"It's different but, I would probably say Valentino's because Jorge has been fighting for a lot more podiums during the same period and running at the front of a lot of races. Even if at the end he didn't arrive there, he was able to fight quite a lot towards the front. But very difficult to chose between them."

Lorenzo has been beaten by satellite Ducati riders…

"Yeah, but I think a lot of the other riders were just looking at Valentino like, 'if he can't do it then I have the excuse, I don't need to really try'.

"But if there is one person at the front, it brings everybody up because they say, 'ah the bike can do it, there's no excuses'. Then you have to do it and there's quite a big difference with that.

"When Valentino got [to Ducati], everybody was just waiting for him to create a bike. And clearly this isn't what can happen so quickly. The Yamaha is clearly just a good bike. With him or without him, they were still winning races.

"And it's the same thing; to develop something that you really want to suit you is very, very difficult. So it's a little easier to adapt and find your way. It's quicker than to change frames and engineer a new bike."

What is missing from Lorenzo's riding on the Ducati?

"Jorge is there. He's close enough to be there. He's missing just a couple tenths in the races normally and for me a little bit of confidence, because he can stay at the front of the race and then when someone overtakes him he loses confidence. And then somebody else overtakes, loses a bit more. Then at the end of the race he comes back again.

"Clearly, it's not a complete disaster situation. I think he's just looking for that confidence in the bike where he can then start to do exactly what he wants."

Would you keep Lorenzo at Ducati next season?

"It depends on the attitude of Jorge. If he's really keen to stay here then of course this is a good option.

"At the same time, if he is not completely committed to Ducati then there's no reason for him to stay here and it's better that we see him somewhere else, back again at the front to make a better championship battle and give somebody else an opportunity at this bike.

"So it's a very complicated question for sure, but it's what the hearts wants and if he wants to move on and go somewhere else."

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