In the lead up to the double header at the Red Bull Ring it was announced that Andrea Dovizioso would be parting with Ducati at the end of the 2020 season.
It has seemed that Ducati have wanted a fresh look and/or approach in 2021 as the Italian team had been linked with trying to sign Maverick Vinales, Pol Espargaro or Fabio Quartararo. They have since confirmed the departure of Danilo Petrucci and replaced him with Jack Miller as the Italian team look set for a completely new line-up next season.
Replacing Petrucci with Miller isn’t much of a gamble but letting Dovizioso go perhaps is. Since he joined the Italian team back in 2013 Dovizioso has been the lead Ducati in the championship for six of the seven seasons he has contested with them. Added to that is the fact that together the two have gone from a best race finish of fourth in 2013 on their way to eighth in the championship to finishing second in the championship and winning 13 races in the last three seasons.Embed from Getty Images
There are also qualities that Dovizioso has shown that perhaps the likes of Miller, and whoever replaces Dovizioso, don’t have. The best examples of this is Dovizioso’s 2020 Austrian Grand Prix victory, as well as victories he secured at the 2017 edition of the race and at the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix, where he displayed the ability of knowing when the right time to push is as well as the ability to outsmart and ultimately get the better of the likes of Marc Marquez during on track battles.
Dovizoso has also shown good consistency during recent seasons, failing to finish outside the top ten only three times in 2017, four times in 2018 and twice last season. The current 2020 season, at the time of writing, sees the Italian inside the top three in the championship, only three points behind current championship leader Fabio Quartararo, and is the only Ducati rider to have finished inside the points in the opening five rounds of the season.
Consistency is something that any rider is going to need if Marc Marquez is to be beaten in a straight fight in the championship with some of the Spaniard’s championship success from 2016 to date being in part down to consistently finishing inside the top five.
These are the sorts of things that Ducati have to bear in mind as they choose Dovizioso’s replacement as it has been in part down to his consistency and ability to match and beat Marquez on track that has seen the Italian be the Spaniard’s closest challenger in the last three seasons.
Dovizioso is by no means irreplaceable, but by not getting a deal agreed for 2021, Ducati have left themselves with a difficult task of finding an adequate replacement who can take it to Marquez and deliver the championship that the Italian team has challenged for in the past few seasons.