Andrea Dovizioso very bluntly announced he is leaving the factory Ducati team after 2020, following comments on Friday at Austria of him having ’10 days to prove his future.’
The question is, where on earth will he go?
Dovizioso has made it clear that he wants to race, but has absolutely no plan B, just an excellent CV with three back-to-back MotoGP runner up medals, any factory would be delighted to have Dovizioso, unless you’re from Bologna and love the colour red that is.
“I want to race, but in this moment I don’t have any ‘plan B’, this situation was different than to wait for the ‘plan B’. That decision [to quit] is related about the situation there is in Ducati and it was to take a decision now and be focused on racing. I don’t have any ‘plan B’, but in motorsport, a lot of things can happen. The reality is at this moment a place doesn’t really exist.” Said Dovizioso following the announcement of his Ducati split.
The 2021 MotoGP grid has next to no seats available if you look at the grid below prepared by us, there are only spots in two places which don’t involve riding a Ducati, these are Aprilia and Petronas Yamaha.
Petronas Yamaha as we all know is not going to happen unless Valentino Rossi decides to retire which is also unlikely, however, anything can happen. This leaves the door at Aprilia open, Aprilia have struggled in MotoGP for some time now, but we all know what a talented rider can do for a manufacturer, just look at Pedrosa and KTM.
Aleix Espargaro commented on Dovizioso potentially going to Aprilia saying, “It looks like sometimes 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, but I’ve said many times Andrea is one of my favourite riders.
“He is very hardworking, a very clean rider with a very high technique and I think he developed the Ducati bike very good. The most impressive thing for me is how fast he is on the race day. Sometimes on Friday and Saturday, he is not fantastic, but on race day he unbelievably fast.”
“As a rider, I would love to have Andrea, for me the second-best rider in the world the last five years, as a team-mate, it would help the team grow up a lot and it will help me to be a better rider. I think I can be faster than him, but I think I can learn many, many things from Andrea. He would be more than welcome in Aprilia from my side.”
Aprilia also commented on this saying that Dovizioso was a top rider so they may not be able to afford him. The only problem is that Cal Crutchlow is undergoing negotiations with Aprilia, if Dovizioso was on the table, it is no surprise who Aprilia would have their eyes on.
The one other option is a Zarco/Abraham type situation, this would mean a rider being ejected from their seat on the 2021 grid to occupy Dovizioso, there are only two riders that come to mind when you think about who could leave, they are Tito Rabat and Danilo Petrucci. Before the season we would have said Takaaki Nakagami, but after a string of impressive performances, this will not happen.
Tito Rabat is in a good place though, he rides a Ducati, there is absolutely no chance on this planet that Dovizioso would leave factory Ducati to occupy a place on the Avinita Ducati. This leaves Danilo Petrucci, a rider who has signed for the Tech3 team for 2021, he has not performed at Ducati since his race win at Mugello and will move to KTM machinery for 2021, to sack him for Dovizioso before he has even seen the bike would be bad news. But out of Petrucci and Dovizioso, KTM would have eyes on Dovizioso who is already a Red Bull athlete, not to mention that KTM are rich enough to pay for Dovizioso.
Both options are incredibly unlikely, but where there is a will, there is a way. There are still some spare grid slots available, there is nothing apart from money stopping Dovizioso and Dorna coming to an agreement for Dovizioso to race for a private team in 2021 with factory support, again, a suggestion. If this is not possible then we could see Dovizioso move over to WorldSBK or retire.
However, Ducati could still come up with the goods and offer Dovizioso everything he wants and Dovizioso would re-sign with them, that’s what Ducati dream about anyway… If there is one thing we know, Dovizioso is incredibly fast and him not having a ride would be a waste of talent.
Featured image – www.motogp.com