Andrea Dovizioso insisted he does not have a 'Plan B' in place for the 2021 MotoGP season, despite Saturday's announcement that he has decided not to continue at Ducati next season.

One year ago in Austria the Ducati pits were full of jubilation as Dovizioso stormed to one of his most memorable victories, overtaking world champion Marc Marquez at the very final corner.

That same garage was very much subdued on Saturday afternoon after Dovizioso's manager, Simone Battistella, informed Ducati that his rider now has "no intention of continuing" with the team.

Despite their success together over the past eight seasons - 13 race wins and title runner-up to Marquez for the last three years - the ongoing delay in reaching a new contract highlighted clear cracks in the relationship between Dovizioso and Ducati.

Money is thought to have been a major factor, with Ducati understood to have been offering Dovizioso a significant pay cut, due to budget-tightening caused by the coronavirus.

But some suggested yesterday's comments from team manager Davide Tardozzi - saying a decision on Dovizioso's future would be made after the two Austrian races - were the final straw.

"I fully understand his reasons to leave Ducati, especially after the words they said yesterday," said Dovizioso's team-mate Danilo Petrucci, himself moving to Tech3 KTM next season.

"I think Andrea did very good work during these eight years and to be judged by the next two races, I think is not a great idea."

Unfortunately, we still don't know the exact reasons behind Dovizioso's decision, the Italian politely declining to answer many of the questions put to him on Saturday afternoon on the grounds that he wants to avoid conflict with his current team.

"The moment is not right to speak about all the details," Dovizioso said. "The only thing I can say is it is better to take the decision now and be focussed on racing instead of waiting for some other race.

"We’re in Austria, a good track for us. We showed a really good speed today and yesterday. We want to bring the maximum from these two races. It was the right decision for us to take it now. That’s it.

"To be relaxed in the team and really focussed for the championship, it’s not really the moment to answer a lot of questions and speak about the details of what has happened this season."

Dovi did confirm his final decision had only been made in the last few days: "But before the final decision there is a lot of work… It’s not only about the day when you take a decision. It’s eight years together so a lot of things happen, positive and negative."

The 34-year-old also insisted that, despite wanting to continue racing, he has no alternative plan in place for 2021.

All factory team seats have already been filled for next season with the potential exception of Aprilia, should Andrea Iannone be unable to overturn his doping ban on appeal.

"I want to race. In this moment I don’t have any Plan B," Dovizioso said. "This situation was different than wait for a plan B. The decision is related to the situation there is in Ducati. It was better to take a decision now and be focussed for racing.

"I don’t have any Plan B but you know in motorsport a lot of things can happen. The reality is in this moment there doesn’t really exist the place [for next season]. But we will know and now we are focussed on racing."

But what if he goes on to win the world championship with Ducati this season, could there be a change of heart?

"I don’t think so. But if that [title can] happen it would be nice! For sure [the title is possible]. But to step back, no."

However, Dovizioso is confident that taking the decision will help his title chances.

"For sure there is some help on that. When you’re thinking about how to be fast, how to be strong, AND you have to take a decision about the future and the relation with the engineers, with your boss… you don’t live in a perfect way when the speed is like it was in the first three rounds," he said.

"So for sure now I’m just focussed on racing. We are human. It’s always better to be focussed on one thing. I mean, I have a lot of experience and I have shown in the past I was able to manage these situations in a good way. But everything can affect everybody for sure."

Dovizioso will start Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, a circuit where Ducati has been undefeated for the last four years, from fourth on the grid and with a fighting chance for his first victory of the season.

"I think we have our chance for sure. But I think the situation is a bit different to the past because the competitors have become stronger," he said. "So to win I have to find a good strategy and I don’t know if I will have a chance.

"Pol today did an incredible pace. I think Rins will be a race contender. And in the middle there are a lot of really fast riders. I think the Yamahas and Jack will be really strong. I don’t know if they can fight until the end. But that can create a big confusion for the race so it will be hard.

"The start will be important. But with 28 laps the consumption of the rear tyre here we have to study and try to be ready in any condition tomorrow. "

Dovizioso is currently joint third in the world championship, 28 points behind Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo, who qualified one place in front of him.

While Dovizioso remains tight-lipped over his reasons for leaving, Casey Stoner - the only rider with a more successful MotoGP record at Ducati - made his feelings clear:

 

Comments

Loading Comments...