Petrucci found out KTM MotoGP axe mid-FP4 but expected it after unanswered calls

Danilo Petrucci reveals he discovered his KTM axe at the same time as everyone else mid-way through free practice, but says he expected it anyway

Danilo Petrucci - Tech 3 KTM

Danilo Petrucci has revealed he discovered he was getting the axe from KTM’s rider line-up for the 2022 MotoGP season on TV monitors mid-way through the FP4 practice session, even if he says the revelation wasn’t a surprise.

The Italian - together with Tech 3 Racing team-mate Iker Lecuona - won’t be retained by KTM for the 2022 MotoGP season with Raul Fernandez instead getting the nod alongside fellow Moto2 graduate Remy Gardner.

Rumours of Fernandez’s promotion have been rife since the start of the summer break after it emerged he was being courted heavily by Petronas SRT Yamaha. As a result, KTM moved to offer Fernandez a promotion to MotoGP for 2022 having originally planned to keep him in Moto2 for next year.

Indeed, while Petrucci and Lecuona were originally expecting to fight over the last remaining seat alongside Gardner, this confirms they are now both on their way out.

It is a particular disappointment for Petrucci, who only joined KTM at the start of the season, though the Italian admits the results - peaking with a fifth in France - haven’t met expectations.

As such, he was expecting the axe having learned in time that no good can come of phone calls that aren’t being answered.

"I was absolutely not surprised about the news," he told reporters, including "We expected it, because as I told you many times, when someone doesn't answer the phone, you are for sure not renewing the contract. But at least answering the phone is a matter of, let's say, education.”

More startlingly was the manner in which Petrucci discovered the news officially, seeing it on TV screens while he was in the midst of FP4 at the Red Bull Ring.

"[The way they did the announcement during FP4] today, maybe they could wait a few hours or something. But… [laughs]… even if I've been here since I was three years old following my father, this world will always surprise me. The best thing is to see the faces. Like, 'you know, that I know'.

"But we didn't achieve what we expected and I was the first one in Assen to say if I was in the trousers of KTM's management, I would sign Raul. But then in all the interviews they made, it was quite funny to see they still act like nothing was decided! But instead everything was decided.

"I knew [this decision] for many days and I haven't changed my approach or anything. When I am on the bike, I always gave my best," he said. "As I told you, it's not a surprise for me. I'm more surprised about the behaviour of some people. And I'm not going to say names."

KTM left reeling by botched MotoGP announcement

It has been a rather sobering few days for the MotoGP team on what should have been a triumphant weekend competing on home soil in the Styrian MotoGP.

First it had to deal with Miguel Oliveira's heavy crash on Friday, leaving him bruised, battered and down on pace for the remainder of the weekend, while Dani Pedrosa was involved in a monster shunt at the start of the race, even if he was able to restart and finish a very creditable tenth.

However, it also backed itself into a corner over the confirmation Raul Fernandez would be stepping up to MotoGP in 2021, with the news landing very suddenly mid-way through FP4. Worse still, KTM seemingly put the news as a higher priority than letting its own riders know they would be out of a job at the end of the year, leading to the awkward moment of Petrucci seeing it on TV screens with everyone else.

Referring to the inelegant way the news was revealed, KTM’s Pit Beirer later told MotoGP pit lane reporter Simon Crafar that it felt it had to rush the announcement because Fernandez was receiving significant interest from teams, though they would have had to buy him out of his KTM deal to the tune of 500,00 euros.

To make matters worse, Fernandez later inferred to DAZN that the deal wasn't what he wanted for 2022, though it is unclear whether he meant he wanted to stay in Moto2 another season for a run at the title, or defect to Petronas SRT Yamaha.

In short, KTM doesn't come out of its home event looking particularly good...