Aleix Espargaro slams team-mate Andrea Iannone: “He disrespected me"

Aleix Espargaro takes exception to Andrea Iannone's comments during Aprilia team launch, revealing their 'relationship is over as of today'

Aleix Espargaro, Andrea Iannone - Aprilia

Aleix Espargaro has launched a scathing attack on Aprilia Racing team-mate Andrea Iannone over comments about the new RS-GP that he felt were ‘disrespectful’, adding their ‘relationship ends today’.

Iannone has maintained a low profile since revelations about his failed drugs test came to light in December.  Nonetheless, but he was on hand to help the team officially unveil its 2020 MotoGP challenger in Qatar earlier this week while he waits on a decision from the International Disciplinary Court over whether to exonerate him or formally suspend him.

However, during that launch Iannone was quoted as saying the new RS-GP – which has shown a competitive turn of pace in Espargaro’s hands during pre-season testing – has been developed ‘following his input’ even though he hasn’t been able to ride it yet.

They are comments that have gone down badly with Espargaro who says Iannone had barely any say in the direction of the latest machine, referencing the fact both himself and test rider Bradley Smith have done the lion’s share of the work.

“We know how Andrea Iannone is,” he told media following the opening day of the MotoGP test. “He likes to be the centre of attention, but I think it was not only a lack of respect for me, but also for my whole team, all my engineers because I have been working with Aprilia for four years to request these changes. So obviously what he said doesn't seem right to me."

Espargaro – who was critical of the Aprilia development process at times in 2019 - goes on to say that Iannone reverted to using the majority of the Spaniard’s settings last season but continued to out-perform the MotoGP race winner.

“Everything he tried at the start of the year, he rejected and it ended up working with my settings. In 90% of the sessions, he was behind me, so it seemed to me a great lack of respect.

Andrea Iannone returning to a frosty environment at Aprilia?

One of MotoGP’s more colourful characters, Andrea Iannone hasn’t been far from the headlines over the winter as he waits on a decision over whether his provisional drugs ban for the steroid Drostanolone becomes a more formal long-term suspension.

Even if he does return though he will be coming back to a frosty environment within his team. Indeed, Espargaro doesn’t hold back in his latest comments, appearing to reference his drugs ban by saying ‘everyone will get what they deserve in the future’.

“I make my life, quiet, with my family, by training hard, by giving my life here. And he makes the life he makes and everyone will get what he deserves in the future.”

"It was super disrespectful. I had a lot of teammates at Aprilia, I never had a problem with anyone on this team. I feel like my classmates are good friends, I also had a good relationship with Andrea. But what he said during the presentation, for me, was the end of our relationship, because it was a great disrespect.”

Though Iannone is known for his fiery character, Espargaro has also become one of MotoGP’s more out-spoken riders. Last year he frequently pointed the finger at Aprilia for its slow development process compared with rivals and called out owners Piaggio for not pushing greater financial resources the team’s way.

Other riders weren’t immune from his criticism either after Espargaro claimed Johann Zarco’s attitude when riding alongside his brother Pol Espargaro at KTM meant he didn’t deserve the then available Repsol Honda ride.

As for Iannone, while Aprilia has publicly stood by the Italian during his suspension, it remains to be seen whether his future with the team will stretch beyond 2020 especially now that team’s are getting deep into negotiations for the next cycle of contracts.