Are Ducati wasting a golden opportunity to win the 2020 MotoGP Riders’ title?

During the Aragon Grand Prix factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso criticised his teammate for getting a tow off him which saw Dovizioso fail to make it through to Q2 while his teammate, Danilo Petrucci did. Dovizioso also made mention of an incident with his teammate during the French Grand Prix which he also wasn’t pleased with.

The factory Ducati team haven’t won a Riders’ Championship since 2007 which was won by Casey Stoner. The Italian team have been in serious contention from 2017 onwards with Dovizioso having been Marc Marquez and Honda’s main challenger over the last three seasons.

#93 Márquez vs #4 Dovizioso” by Takayuki Suzuki is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

That has changed in 2020 with Marc Marquez having missed the majority of the season after a crash in the opening round which has provided a massive opportunity for anyone who can take it. There may be questions over the worth of a 2020 title with Marc Marquez not being there to defend his title, but it would be foolish to waste the opportunity that Marquez’s absence has created.

Yet just when Ducati are presented with their best chance of winning the championship they seem to be squandering it in every way possible. Initially there was the saga over Andrea Dovizioso’s contract which culminated in an announcement during the Austrian Grand Prix weekend that the Italian wouldn’t continue with the team in 2021.

Since then there have been further murmurs that all is not well between Dovizioso and Ducati with the partnership between the two breaking down even further. This has been compounded in recent weekend’s, as mentioned, by the actions of Dovizioso’s teammate Danilo Petrucci.

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There is the perception by some that there have been mixed messages coming from Petrucci, that he would like to help Dovizioso to win the title, then again as his actions have proved he is very much out for himself. This shouldn’t come as a surprise in part as Petrucci will be leaving the factory Ducati team at the end of the season too.

All of this adds to the sense that Ducati are wasting their opportunity of finally clinching a title. Especially as Dovizioso, at the time of writing, is still in with a chance of becoming the 2020 MotoGP champion as the Italian is 15 points behind current championship leader Joan Mir. The Italian is also at present the closest Ducati rider to the championship leader with the next best Ducati rider being Jack Miller who is 39 points adrift of Mir. This is despite Dovizioso having issues adapting to Michelin’s 2020 tyres.

Ducati may feel that they will be able to mount a more robust title challenge in 2021 when they have a completely new lineup in the factory team, consisting of Miller and Francesco Bagnaia. Yet neither have been able to mount as strong a title challenge as Dovizioso this season, despite both being on a GP20 like Dovizioso, and the Italian mounting a fairly weak title challenge this season.

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There are other issues I feel are compounding Ducati’s 2020 title fight including, as mentioned, some of its riders having difficulty adapting to Michelin’s 2020 tyres as well as perhaps Ducati not being the best overall package on the grid, especially compared to previous seasons.

All together there are some challenges that Ducati have been faced with in 2020, resolving them hasn’t been made any easier by the team squabbling with either of its factory riders or letting the riders squabble with each other. Whatever your opinion is about the worth of the 2020 MotoGP season to the eventual champion, it has presented an opportunity to those that have had to follow Marc Marquez and Honda for the past four seasons. Ducati should have been the first in line to take advantage, however the way the season has played out the Italian manufacturer is perhaps third or fourth in line.

At the time of writing four Grand Prix remain in the 2020 season. If Ducati could resolve the interpersonal issues, amongst other things, it could end its partnership with Dovizioso and Petrucci on a high, instead of the hostile ending it feels like it is heading towards.

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