Crucial races to decide Andrea Dovizioso’s MotoGP future at Ducati

If Andrea Dovizioso can maximise Ducati's chances in the next three MotoGP races, the manufacturer is likely to side with the Italian and his contract wishes

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati 1200

The next three races are set to prove crucial for Ducati and Andrea Dovizioso in their hope of finding an agreement that will take them through to the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.

To date Dovizioso has hesitated signing on the dotted line over a disagreement over money, which is understood to have originated when Ducati reduced the terms in the wake of the coronavirus.

It means Ducati has only two riders confirmed for its six seats in 2021 – Jack Miller on the factory machine and Tito Rabat, who has his own personal contract with Avintia Racing – whereas nearly every other seat on the 2021 MotoGP grid is confirmed now.

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With the start of the 2020 season coming and going, Dovizioso has remained coy on the prospect of coming to an agreement quickly, instead suggesting he is in no rush to make a deal even if it means he won’t compete in 2021.

That would align with comments made by Ducati’s Paolo Ciabatti to Speedweek, who suggests the next three events in Brno and the Red Bull Ring will provide greater clarity on which direction to take for 2021.

The reasoning behind this is both circuits are recognised as Ducati’s strongest on the calendar, with Dovizioso in particular enjoying significant success in recent years. With the added factor that Marc Marquez won’t be present for at least one of those races, it is considered crunch time for Ducati and Dovizioso to prove they can steal a march in the standings. 

As a result, this could well have bearings on whether Ducati accepts Dovizioso’s demands, provided he can demonstrate the appropriate results it expects.

“It is possible, unfortunately, when it comes to the salary and the ideas of those involved are very far apart,” Ciabatti admitted. “I think both parties can make concessions and compromises. In the end you always have to find an acceptable compromise. Our goal is to find an agreement to continue with Dovi.

“On the other hand, because of the latest information about Márquez's injury, we have a very good opportunity to win the title that we haven't had in the past. In the past three years only Márquez has done better than Dovi in the World Cup. Now Márquez will be missing in Brno and possibly in other races. And he will certainly not be in top shape when he returns.

“Unfortunately, I have to say that we should benefit from this situation. We should try to achieve victories from Brno. It is the only way to win a championship, which is our ultimate goal.

“If Andrea notices that he can fight for the World Cup this year, which is our goal, then decision-making may become easier for both parties,” Ciabatti added. “We thought that if we made a decision before the start of the season, it wouldn't be the best solution for him and for us.”

Should Dovizioso and Ducati go their separate ways – with the Italian hinting he is prepared to take a year out or retire – the manufacturer is likely to promote Pecco Bagnaia alongside Miller.

The Italian’s deal for 2021 hasn’t been officially confirmed but is understood to have been agreed, regardless of whether he is with the factory team or Pramac Racing. The satellite team is expected to confirm Moto2 standout Jorge Martin in one of the seats, with Luca Marini an option if Bagnaia does indeed move up.