The end of Qualifying 1 at the Aragon MotoGP saw a furious Andrea Dovizioso throw his gloves across the Ducati garage before storming out in frustration.

The normally tranquil Italian, Ducati's best hope of winning the world title, had just been denied a place in Qualifying 1 after towing his own team-mate Danilo Petrucci to the top of the timesheets.

In a reversal of normal team orders, Petrucci had followed Dovizioso throughout the 15-minute session, setting all three of his flying laps - before and after a pit stop - while tucked up behind the #4.

Many assumed that there was some sort of arrangement in place between the Ducati riders, perhaps staying together and swapping places at some stage, so each could benefit from a tow down the 1km back straight.

But afterwards it emerged that nothing had been agreed and, while Dovizioso didn't want any help from his team-mate, he was livid that Petrucci deliberately singled him out for a tow.

Petrucci shadowed Dovizioso out of the pits at the start of qualifying. When Dovizioso then slowed and let Petrucci past, Petrucci mirrored the move shortly after so that he was back behind Dovizioso.

The pair remained in formation for two flying laps, Petrucci setting a 1m 48.571s and Dovizioso a 1m 48.806s.

Dovizioso then pitted for a new tyre one lap before Petrucci, who rejoined (not by coincidence it seems) a few corners ahead of the #4, who was starting the first flying lap of his second run.

The triple title runner-up then passed Petrucci towards the end of that lap, with the #9 again tucking in behind him.

Dovizioso set a 1m 48.290s to move into second place behind Jack Miller, before continuing to push for a second flying lap, with Petrucci in tow.

That lap ended with a 1m 47.752s, but was pipped by Petrucci's 1m 47.605s just behind him, putting the Ducati pair first and second.

Both then backed off, meaning Petrucci only did one flying lap during his second run. But while Petrucci remained fastest, Dovizioso then lost out to Miller by 0.015s, depriving him of a place in Qualifying 2 and meaning he will start just 13th on the grid.

"I went into qualifying with a good feeling. I did a really good lap time. I would have been able to be a bit faster in Q2. So I wanted to be on the first two rows and we couldn’t," Dovizioso said.

"I was disappointed because I don't think Danilo did the right thing. I mean he didn’t have the speed to be there and he followed me three times and he did his lap time behind me.

"We didn’t decide anything [beforehand]. We didn’t speak about it. Okay [being behind me for the first run] it's normal. But with the second tyre it happened again, the same.

"If you gain a tenth because you follow me three times this means you try to be in Q2 with my speed. And if I’m the only Ducati rider [able to win the title] and we have a good relation because I helped him with lot of things, it wasn’t a smart move.

"So I was angry about that."

Dovizioso underlined that he doesn't expect any assistance from Petrucci, but doesn't want to be targeted either.

"I didn’t ask for any help," Dovizioso said. "He did a lap time behind me three times, because he didn’t have the speed. So without me he couldn’t be that fast.

"We don’t have to make an agreement. I think it's just to think in a smart way! I did my lap time and if you want to make a good lap time you will do [yourself]. But not against me and not making the lap time because you follow me.

"I think it’s stupid, if we're thinking about the championship."

Dovizioso, who is 18 points behind title leader and Aragon pole qualifier Fabio Quartararo, said he didn't blame Ducati for not intervening.

"I don’t think in this case it was a Ducati move. I think it was more to use your brain when you ride," he said. "I think Danilo’s quite a smart person - if I compare to a lot of riders! – but it didn’t happen today."

Dovizioso also rejected suggestions the incident shows Ducati should step in with some kind of team orders, given only he and maybe Jack Miller (-40 points) still have a realistic shot at the title.

The factory has certainly tried to use team orders to aid Dovizioso's title challenges in the past, although the 34-year-old made clear it was not something he had ever requested.

"I don’t think we have to make a strategy in Ducati. I think there are a lot of races to go and every rider has to race in the way they want. I never asked, also when I could ask in the past with the rider of Ducati, that everyone knows, the Spanish rider!" Dovizioso said.

"But it's just to be smart, like in the situation of today. It's not about strategy for the championship. I'm not that kind of rider and I’m not angry because I need something like that from Ducati in this moment.

"In MotoGP it’s unusual to see [team orders] strategy five races from end. So I'm not disappointed by that. To really fight for the championship in this moment I’m still against a minimum of three riders. But I’m struggling with speed, not strategy.

"As I explained before, what happened today, in this is case is not a Ducati situation."

Petrucci: I used Andrea like a target

Petrucci admitted he had used Dovizioso 'like a target' during the Qualifying 1 session, as he continues to battle a relative lack of straight-line speed.

"I got no information or advice [from the team before the session], nothing, just do my best," said Petrucci, who eventually qualified in eighth place.

"For sure I used Andrea like a target, but it's like in Barcelona and here since yesterday that I lose almost 5-8km/h on the straight, so I need a slipstream to not lose too much.

"I think we are free to race, it's a qualifying and I used all my weapons to get into Qualifying 2.

"For sure we are struggling, in Le Mans I was not struggling and I didn't follow anyone, like in the past, but we have no team orders.

"I'm so sorry Andrea is out of Qualifying 2, but if not I'd have to answer the question why I am so slow.

"I'm racing for myself and I'm recovering from a bad first part of the season and I have to use all of the chances I have."

Like Dovizioso, Petrucci has won one race so far this season - but sits only tenth in the world championship, 51 points from Quartararo.

Both Petrucci and Dovizioso will leave Ducati at the end of this year. Petrucci will join Tech3 KTM while Dovizioso is yet to confirm his plans, but is tipped for a testing role.

Miller: It’s every man for themselves in qualifying

Miller went on to qualify as the top Ducati rider at Aragon, in fifth place.

If their current championship fortunes continue, Dovizioso and Miller look likely to emerge as Ducati's title fighters heading into the final rounds.

But the Australian, currently 41 points from Quartararo, thinks it's too difficult to try and introduce any strategy for qualifying to avoid today's Ducati vs Ducati situations.

"It’s Q1. You can’t really help anyone do anything. If it wasn’t us, then Binder would have got through. If you play games like that you just get shot in the foot," Miller said. "In the race it's a bit different. But in qualifying it’s every man for themselves."

 

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