Andrea Dovizioso’s departure from the Ducati MotoGP team could become even messier, with bombshell rumours in the paddock suggesting that he is considering legal action against the manufacturer.
And the action would not be anything to do with the collapse of their contract talks, but over Ducati’s stance towards Yamaha’s recent engine penalty.
The Race’s sources in the paddock have already made it clear that Dovizioso has been left deeply unhappy with Ducati’s handling of last weekend’s penalty against Yamaha for illegally modifying its engines at the opening round of the 2020 season at Jerez.
“If it were true that the [Yamaha] proposal started from Ducati, it would be a deeply embarrassing situation” :: Simone Battistella
Speaking today to Italian newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport, Dovizioso’s manager Simone Battistella said that his rider has consulted with a lawyer to see what the next step is for him.
Yamaha was sanctioned last weekend for using illegal valves in the engines that Fabio Quartararo, Maverick Vinales, Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli used at the opening round of the season, after it was discovered that they had substituted the valves submitted for homologation with a slightly different spec from another supplier.
It was investigated for the infringement and subsequently penalised by having its teams’ and constructors’ championship points docked – but crucially not its riders’ points.
Dovizioso’s case hinges on the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ made by the Motorcycle Sports Manufacturers’ Association ahead of Yamaha’s penalty being handed out.
It’s believed that an agreement was reached between the other five manufacturers that no appeal would be lodged against Yamaha’s penalty if a minimum sanction was handed down.
The subsequent late announcement of the penalty means that time was limited for other parties (such as riders) to lodge protests of their own within the one-hour window allowed to do so.
Some have hinted that that is an idea first mooted by Ducati, and would have allowed it to close in on winning the constructors’ championship without affecting the title fight of its departing racer Dovizioso.
“If it were true that the proposal started from Ducati, it would be a deeply embarrassing situation,” Battistella told Gazzetta Dello Sport on Friday.
“Neither Andrea nor I have been informed of the proposal, and as the sentence issued late in the evening with only one hour available to appeal it has compromised Andrea’s ability to make a protest.
“But, even more, it has important consequences in terms of ranking and economics.”
Asked about the prospect of legal action, he replied: “We are trying to figure out what to do if this situation arises”.
If Quartararo and Vinales had been disqualified from the Jerez opener, Dovizioso would have been moved up to become the winner of the race, likely handing him significantly more bonuses from the team and his sponsors than he received for finishing third.
Even more, if he were awarded 25 points for his opening round performance instead of 16 and the Yamaha riders had theirs stripped from them, it would move Dovizioso into second place in the championship, one point ahead of current joint-second-place man Alex Rins, who is tied with Quartararo on 125 points.
Between the race-winning bonuses from the Spanish Grand Prix and the likely extra rewards should Dovizioso again finish runner-up in the championship rather than the sixth place spot he currently holds, the economic gain from Yamaha being completely disqualified could easily stretch into the hundreds of thousands of euros.
However, also speaking to Gazzetta Dello Sport on the subject, Ducati team manager Paolo Ciabatti was quick to dismiss the allegations that Ducati was the instigator of some sort of plot, instead insisting that the agreement reached was a mutual one.
“I would be very surprised if Andrea and Battistella were really thinking of such an action,” he said.
“It was not Ducati’s idea; the search for a unanimous position to resolve a situation that had been going on for some time.
“The manufacturers communicated to the technical management that were present at the meeting that at least it was expected that Yamaha would be taken away from the manufacturers points and team.”