It comes as no great surprise, but Andrea Dovizioso has ruled out continuing in MotoGP for the 2023 season.
After splitting from Ducati at the end of 2020, then testing for Aprilia, the triple title runner-up returned to MotoGP race action with the Petronas (now RNF) Yamaha team last September, aiming to revive the kind of form that took him to six podiums on a satellite M1 at Tech3 in 2012.
But while Yamaha’s reigning champion Fabio Quartararo is again top of the world championship table, fellow Factory-spec colleagues Franco Morbidelli and Dovizioso are a distant 19th and 22nd in the standings.
Dovizioso always made clear he would not continue if he couldn’t be competitive and, with a best race result of eleventh this season and only two other points appearances, the decision was largely made for him.
“For sure, I will not race,” Dovizioso told MotoGP.com. “I always said if I would not be competitive, I don’t want to be here.
“So there is no reason. Especially after 20 years. I never tried to have a place for next year.
“I’m completely relaxed about it. I already did half a year out of racing last year. I already tested [retirement], so I’m OK about that,” joked the Italian.
Dovizioso has taken 24 grand prix wins (15 in the premier class, for Honda and Ducati) and 103 podiums (62 in MotoGP for Honda, Yamaha and Ducati) since his debut as a 125cc wild-card in 2001.
He won the 125cc title in 2004 and was twice runner-up in 250cc, in addition to his trio of premier-class runner-up finishes behind Marc Marquez.
Aside from his rookie 2002 125GP season, Dovizioso has never previously finished lower than eighth in a full world championship campaign and has only once gone a complete premier-class season without a rostrum, at Ducati in 2013.
“For sure I don’t want to finish the season like this because it’s so nice to be competitive. When you feel you can make a really good lap time and you fight for a good position, as always I did in the past,” said the 36-year-old.
“But nobody ever has everything under control and this can happen!”
Almost from his first laps on the M1, Dovizioso warned that the narrow performance window of the bike meant that only one kind of riding style, exploited to perfection by Quartararo, can be effective.
“I think Yamaha in this moment is quite unusual. You have a really good feeling, you can turn the bike and brake very well, but there are some other parts that are not that good,” Dovizioso said.
“If you don’t ride like Fabio, it’s very difficult to be competitive. If Fabio’s winning there is a reason. So this means there is a possibility to be fast. But if the other riders are complaining, like in the last years, it means there isn’t more ways to be competitive like in the past.
“For example, the way [Morbidelli and I] ride is completely opposite. Frankie is using more [lean] angle every time, for a longer time. He’s not braking hard. He is completely opposite to me. But the result is very similar. And when there is just one bike [at the front] it means there is maybe only one way to be competitive.
“If you look now, all the Japanese [manufacturers] are struggling,” Dovizioso added. “If you look at who won the title again it’s normally Japanese, but we are speaking just about one [rider] and that’s always related to the match between the rider and the bike.
“But if you look, the second rider [at Yamaha and Honda] is very far [from the first]. That means, in my opinion, the base of the bike is a bit difficult and a bit particular. It was Honda in the last eight years and I think it’s Yamaha now. Like I think also maybe the Aprilia.
“Fortunately I raced [on the Yamaha] in 2012, because if I didn’t, everybody would say ‘ah, with Yamaha you can’t be competitive’. But it’s not true, it’s for a different reason – because MotoGP changed, the bike changed, the competitors changed, and the way you have to ride the bike is different.
“There are a lot of reasons, and if you put everything together it happens what I’m living now.”
Dovizioso’s departure would leave Quartararo’s title rival Aleix Espargaro, 32, as the oldest rider in MotoGP.
Dovi might not be the only RNF rider leaving MotoGP with rookie team-mate Darryn Binder ready to move to Moto2 if no premier-class options emerge.
RNF will be switching from Yamaha to Aprilia machinery from 2023, with Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez linked to the satellite RS-GP seats.