Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati to split after 8 years together

Andrea Dovizioso calls time on his Ducati relationship in MotoGP amid souring relationship sover contractiual disputes

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati 1200

Andrea Dovizioso has confirmed he will bring his long collaboration with Ducati come to an end at the end of the season after, amid souring relations with the manufacturer.

Dovizioso – a MotoGP runner-up for the past three seasons with Ducati and it’s most successful contender since Casey Stoner – has been reluctant to sign a new deal for 2021 after the manufacturer changed its financial terms, citing the coronavirus crisis as the reason for the reduction.

As such, Dovizioso has repeatedly put off signing up but with talk of growing discontent behind the scenes and the rhetoric of certain managerial members becoming increasingly pointed, Dovizioso has opted to sever ties altogether. 

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Though no formal announcement has come, the decision was confirmed by Dovizioso’s manager Simone Battistella, who said: "The conditions to continue together don't exist... It has been a reflection made over the last period. Andrea feels much more calm now that he has made this decision" 

The decision comes amid what could be Ducati and Dovizioso’s best shot at a MotoGP World Championship as pre-season favourite Marc Marquez sits out through injury.

Nonetheless, a state of the worsening relationship between Ducati and Dovizioso is the fact he has ‘no Plan B’ and seemingly only one option of a seat for MotoGP 2021, at Aprilia, though the team has stated it is waiting on a decision for Aleix Espargaro’s drugs appeal to make a final decision on next year.

What next for Ducati after losing Dovizioso?

From the outside looking in, Ducati allowing Dovizioso to slip through its fingers is face palming. While there are some who question if Dovizioso is a full blown, bar-to-bar title contender, he is the reliable, intelligent and bulletproof number one rider who delivers the results.

Indeed, with Jack Miller – perhaps polar opposite of Dovizioso – coming in for 2021, Ducati should have seen the pairing as a multi-talented line-up, but instead it’s left with a gaping hole.

Of course, we will never know the finer terms of deals decided but while Dovizioso clearly had a price on what he felt he was worth, Ducati’s move to reduce it – something no other team seems to have done – suggested it felt it had all the power in their negotiation. 

It’s not the first time Ducati’s heavy-handedness with rivals has bitten back – indeed, it’s been criticised for its rider management in the past – but they do look like the villains here.

As for candidates to replace him, Cal Crutchlow appears to be available and potentially Andrea Iannone too if Aprilia grabs Dovizioso opportunity now. Both are former Ducati riders, though the former didn’t have a great relationship and the latter may be out of action for a while still.

Pecco Bagnaia is more likely to be promoted, paving way for two Moto2 graduates at Pramac – Jorge Martin and Luca Marini – though Johann Zarco might fancy his chances in the big team after a strong showing recently.