During his final MotoGP weekend with Ducati, sporting director Paolo Ciabatti paid tribute to Andrea Dovizioso's success with the team, while adding that after eight years there was probably a need to 'turn the page'.

A need to turn the page had also been top of Ducati's agenda when Dovizioso - a single race winner for Repsol Honda, then six times on the podium for Tech3 Yamaha - arrived at the factory in the aftermath of Valentino Rossi's winless seasons, in 2013

Their first year together saw Ducati hit rock bottom in terms of MotoGP results, failing to claim a single podium. But the recovery began the following season, as Gigi Dall’Igna arrived from Aprilia to lead Ducati Corse.

MotoGP 2020 Riders' Championship Race Visualised | Crash.net MotoGP

While Andrea Iannone had the honour of Ducati's first win since Casey Stoner at Austria 2016, the combination of Dovizioso, Dall’Igna and the Desmosedici went on to take 14 race victories, 40 podiums and finish title runner-up to Honda's Marc Marquez from 2017-2019.

Nonetheless, growing tensions between rider and team, each appearing to feel undervalued by the other, ultimately led to Dovizioso walking away from the protracted 2021 contract talks in mid-August.

Next season will thus be the first time Dall’Igna has faced a Ducati MotoGP campaign without Dovizioso, who has been his top rider for every season barring 2015 (when Iannone was fifth and Dovizioso seventh) including when teamed with triple premier-class champion Jorge Lorenzo for 2017-2018.

Ciabatti, who joined the factory's MotoGP team at the same time as Dovizioso in 2013, said: "We enjoyed a lot of success together with Andrea Dovizioso. He is the longest-lasting rider in Ducati MotoGP history, 8 years in a row together in MotoGP.

"Definitely winning 14 races and being second in the championship for three years in a row was a great achievement and it's always sad when a relationship like this comes to an end.

"I think obviously there are reasons for this on both sides, but maybe it's also true that after eight years together there is a need probably to turn the page and try to do things in a different way, with a new energy.

"But I think we treasure these eight years together and the results achieved because obviously, Andrea has been the best rider after Casey Stoner in terms of winning grands prix with Ducati and this is something we will always remember."

When Marquez was injured at the Jerez season-opener, many naturally looked to Dovizioso and Ducati as the new 2020 title favourites.

But theory and reality didn't align. While the Italian briefly led the standings after the mid-season Misano rounds, he didn't stand on the podium after a lone Red Bull Ring victory at round 4 of 14.

The end result was fourth in the world championship, 36 points behind Suzuki's Joan Mir.

"Obviously you might think that because of the accident that Marc had in the first race and then, unfortunately, the fact that he could not return during the season, we could have been one of the candidates to try to win this championship because in the previous three years we had been second behind Marc with Andrea Dovizioso," Ciabatti confirmed.

"But because of several reasons - I think the format of the championship, the consecutive races, difficult adaptation of our bike to the new rear Michelin tyre, and also the fact that the riding style that was familiar with our bike with the previous package was not really working so well for some of the riders made it difficult for us."

Dovizioso and team-mate Danilo Petrucci were particularly hampered by the new rear tyre characteristics, which neutered their braking strengths. The compressed season and lack of testing opportunities complicated the search for a solution that haunted them for the entire season.

"This year was a bit different because of what happened with Covid," Ciabatti explained. "We had the pre-season tests as usual in Malaysia and Qatar but probably we could not carry on the normal [development] activity. So for sure in our case it was not easy to adapt our bike to the new tyre package."

Helped by having six bikes on the grid, Ducati still featured on the podium at eight of 14 rounds, more than any other manufacturer. But on a per-rider basis rostrums visits were rare – four by Pramac hotshot Jack Miller being the best, then two for Dovizioso and one each for Petrucci, Francesco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco.

"Basically, I would say we were competitive and fighting for the podium in almost all the races but always with different riders," said Ciabatti.

"All the five factory contracted riders were on the podium, including Zarco on the 2019 bike. [But] we could not keep a consistency. Different riders in different races fighting for the podium but never the same guys.

!So disappointing not to be able to fight for the riders' title. I think consistency played a great role in Suzuki and Joan Mir. They did a great job. So hat's off to them."

Ducati certainly wasn't the only factory to struggle for consistency this season and, like it's rivals, is seeking to iron-out the dips in form for 2021.

"If you look at the results this year [in general], there were riders capable of doing great things in one race and then quite behind in the following race," Ciabatti said. "So I think everyone has found some difficult time to adapt, depending on the track conditions and in the case of Ducati we struggle when there is low grip.

"But we learned a lot this season and we have some ideas to develop for the future and hopefully next year we can be consistent on most of the rounds, because this is the only way to fight for the championship."

While it was "an emotional moment" to say goodbye to both Dovizioso and Petrucci, Pramac riders Miller and Bagnaia will now step up to "turn the page" at the official team for 2021. Dovizioso meanwhile has no MotoGP test or racing commitments but insists he plans to return in future.

Ducati's results next season should also help answer the question of whether rider or bike deserved more credit during the Dovizioso era, the wedge that appears to have ultimately driven rider and team apart.