Some of Andrea Dovizioso's MotoGP rivals were unsurprisingly asked for their opinions following Saturday's surprise news that the Italian has decided to end the uncertainty over his Ducati future by informing the factory that he will not continue at the team in 2021.
As title runner-up for the past three seasons, during which he has taken 13 wins, Dovizioso is the most successful Ducati MotoGP rider since Casey Stoner, who made his feelings clear in the following tweet:
Just my opinion but I dont believe @DucatiMotor can afford to loose someone like @AndreaDovizioso.— Casey Stoner (@Official_CS27) August 15, 2020
I think they need to realise at some point that its the rider, not wind tunnels that get results, so listen to them...
Here are the words of some of Dovizioso's current MotoGP rivals:
"I fully understand his reasons to leave Ducati, especially after the words they said yesterday because I think Andrea did a very good work during these eight years and to be judged by the next two races, I think is not a great idea. I expected this news, first of all because I know Andrea very well and I know Ducati very well and it's nothing new. I think it was in the air that news."
"I'm surprised because I think that they fight a little bit but at the end they would find a solution to continue. It's always difficult from outside, speaking about these things because you don’t know the complete story from the side of Dovi and the side of Ducati.
"So this news surprised me, and it opens very much the riders' market, because now you have one of the best places on the grid – the factory Ducati – that is open. I think that there will be a lot of riders that want to go there. Also our Pecco Bagnaia that unfortunately he had an injury in Brno, in the worst moment for him for the championship, because I think that he can be very competitive.
"And also it’s interesting to understand what will happen to Dovi, where he will ride or if he will continue or not because I don't know."
"The news on Andrea doesn't particularly surprise… I don’t think it particularly surprises the riders because we knew the situation was a little different for him and from him. I think he's had a great time at Ducati, won numerous races, he's finished second in the championship numerous times. He's rode very well at every manufacturer he's been on.
"He decided to stop with them and I think most riders can understand maybe his situation, if you are not feeling great with your bike or your team or however it may be. Or if you have different things in life. Maybe he wants to stop or continue somewhere else, we don’t know.
"But in the end, he's been a credit to MotoGP and Ducati.
"They are going to lose a great rider. But that doesn’t mean that rider can't be replaced. I think what he's done at Ducati over the years has been great and we know how thorough Dovi is and if he feels good, he can push and if he doesn't feel good he doesn't push as much.
"But you remember his first year in Ducati. He was getting information, not able to push, and now look at the way he can push. Last year and this weekend especially, we know he's a great rider and they are losing their championship contender, because he has been over the last three seasons, and they are losing a good guy.
"But that doesn't mean, as I said, that he can't be replaced and they can't find somebody just as fast or faster. I don't think it's a massive shock though."
"I don’t understand it. It looks like some teams are not giving enough credit to their riders. I think what Andrea gave to Ducati is unbelievable. I don’t know the situation there inside but I’ve said it many times, Andrea is one of my favourite riders of all. He’s very hard working, a very clean rider with a very high technique. I think he developed the bike very good.
"I think the most impressive thing for me is how fast he is on race day. Sometimes on a Friday and Saturday he is not explosive or fantastic. But on race day he is always unbelievably fast. So as a rider I know it’s not easy for the Aprilia management but as a rider I would love to have Andrea, for me the 2nd best rider in the world in the last five years, as a team-mate.
"It would help the team to grow up a lot and it would help me to be a better rider. I think I can be faster than him but I also think I can learn many, many things from Andrea. He would be more than welcome at Aprilia from my side."
"The most normal thing is he’s runner up the last three times in a row. For sure you would think he would stay, but it’s a personal decision I think. He can do whatever he wants. Stranger things have happened. Casey retired at some would say his prime. Other guys have done that in the past. So why not?
"It looks to be completely up to him. He’s made the decision. You got to back it. The guy has been here a long time. He knows what he’s doing. First of all, I want to say thank you to him for eight years he’s put into the Ducati and we have this competitive package we have now I think a big part because of him.
"I made a joke with him once he did [the announcement]. I popped over the garage and poked my nose in and said, “What happened, mate? You didn’t want to share a garage with me?” It’s a shame, but I’m not Ducati management. Whoever my team-mate is, it is what it is. I’m a pretty friendly guy to get on with, I think."
On who might now take Dovizioso's place next season:
"I’m not Gigi, so I don’t have this job. Thank God. It is what it is. Jorge [Lorenzo] has been busy the last couple of years with Ducati and Honda and Yamaha. We’ll see. A lot of media hype about it. You always read something.
"I think the logical choice for me would be Pecco. He’s been there, done the junior academy. He’s a young rider. He’s hungry. Unfortunately he’s injured at the moment, after he had a great showing in Jerez where unfortunately he had a mechanical.
"If I have to be completely honest, I think he is the most logical one for the job at the minute. As we’ve seen, anything can happen."