Possibility of '19 retirement left Jorge Lorenzo 'depressed'

Jorge Lorenzo admits he was “very close” to retiring from MotoGP at the end of 2018 when he lost his Ducati ride, and was left “depressed” as a result before signing with Honda. 

Lorenzo joined Ducati after nine years with Yamaha in 2017, but will be dropped in favour of Danilo Petrucci at the end of the year – a decision taken just weeks before his first win with the team at Mugello.

Linked with Suzuki and SRT Yamaha before eventually penning a two-year deal with Honda, Lorenzo admits he came “very close” to retiring as his options dwindled beforehand. 

“It was [a crazy time]. I was like almost in a little depression, because when I was seeing the possibility to retire in my head I was getting depressed,” he said in an interview with BT Sport. 

“Normally when I imagine my retirement, in some way I was feeling happy and relieved because I will not feel any more the pressure and I will not get injured any more. 

“But really I didn't expect when I just started feeling this possibility of retirement I would be getting depressed. 

“And it was like this, was very close for the retirement. It's true I had another possibility to go in the satellite team with Yamaha. It was a good option but not the one I wanted.”

Lorenzo won twice more after Mugello, but was unable to add to this tally after missing four of the final five races with a wrist injury. 

A change to the ergonomics of the GP18s fuel tank prior to Mugello was credited as Lorenzo's breakthrough, though he insists this was merely the “last part” of “big and long work” with Ducati since his arrival at the end of '16. 

“People in general talk a lot about the fuel tank, like it was a magical thing. But this was just the last part of it, because we've been making a big and long work together with the engineers in Ducati from the first month I arrived in the Italian factory. 

“I take a bike very aggressive, with a very harsh first touch of throttle, the bike didn't turn. So little-by-little the factory started to make new chassis: where before they would do just one chassis per year, they started to do three or four chassis in one year. 

“We started trying to improve the first [throttle] touch, the behaviour, to make it more smooth. So 2017, in the last races I was coming better and better and better. 

“I almost won at Misano in the rain, when I crashed with four seconds advantage. But in 2018 they changed the bike, the tank was lower and didn't support me in braking, and I was getting tired. 

“And I told the engineers these things, but they didn't understand me or didn't believe so much about that. 

“So we take long time for this little last piece arrive, and when it arrived I didn't improve the speed because I already have it, like you saw at the beginning of races. 

“But I could keep my stamina and my power for more time, and that's why I could keep leading the race till the end.”