French GP performance 'confirms' Ducati deficit to Honda, believes Andrea Dovizioso
Andrea Dovizioso believes his French Grand Prix performance “confirms” Ducati “needs something more” to beat Marc Marquez for the title, admitting it was "too difficult" to win at Le Mans.
Dovizioso admitted he was worried Ducati's current form may not be on par with Honda's after finishing fourth at Jerez two weeks ago, conceding the Desmosedici still lacked speed in the middle of corners.
Crossing the line 1.9 seconds adrift in second at Le Mans, Dovizioso says his “speed is there”, but needs more to match Marquez – though admits he is unsure what exactly Ducati can do to beat the Honda rider.
“[it was] a bit too difficult to think about the victory,” said Dovizioso, who is now eight points adrift of Marquez in seconds in the standings.
“Second position after this difficult weekend with the weather - on the grid I wasn't so confident - is good because the championship is completely open.
“But I'm not too happy because this race confirms we need something more to fight with Marc, because we are close but not enough.
“My speed is there, but we need something more, and after the consequence was to use the tyre more [to try to match him]. So I'm not happy.
“The last eight laps I was fighting with my rear tyre, and that's why Danilo [Petrucci] catch me.
“He was a bit faster and I tried to make my strategy and it worked. So happy about the position, but we have to improve.
“I don't know [what we can improve]. I think, from the outside, they [Honda] have a bit more power, so they lose a bit less on acceleration.
“And Marc is doing the other part, because he's the only rider fighting for the victory.”
Team-mate Petrucci battled with Dovizioso in the latter stages over second, with the former admitting afterwards he was “scared” of repeating Ducati's infamous Argentina 2016 clash.
Despite being Ducati's lead rider in the points, and standing to lose a lot of ground to Marquez had the pair collided, Dovizioso is glad the team did not employ Formula 1-style team orders.
“If you are in F1, yes, but in our championship, no, and especially in the beginning of the season,” added Dovizioso when asked if Ducati should have issued team orders.
“It depends which way you want to look; if you want to take the maximum [points] maybe it can be a good idea.
“But in our sport, most of the times, it's not like this. It's good, Danilo is a strong rider. In the championship he is in a good situation, he has to bring the maximum and I am happy to have this kind of fight.
“He tried, it was difficult because I was pushing really hard. I was struggling with the tyre, but my laptime at the end was 1m32.8s, not too bad.
“But he didn't do anything crazy, and this is not what we need, and I am happy about that.”