Valentino Rossi and Ducati technical boss Filippo Preziosi have both dropped strong hints that the Bologna factory is seriously contemplating a drastic change in philosophy by switching to a conventional aluminium frame in the future.
Ever since Rossi first rode the 2011 Desmosedici in Valencia last November, he has complained of a lack of front-end feeling and understeer.
As his complaints about the issue grew stronger, so did speculation that Ducati is considering replacing its current carbon fibre frame with an aluminium version identical to the chassis used by all the Japanese factories.
Rossi has repeatedly denied making a specific request to Preziosi that an aluminium chassis is developed and at least tested by Ducati. But he dropped his strongest hint yet that a new direction has been his recommendation in Brno last weekend.
The 32-year-old said: "We speak a lot to try and improve this bike and I know that in Ducati they work a lot but I don’t know exactly about an aluminium frame or some other solution and especially when. For me one clever way is to work with two different ideas. You can try to make some small difference to improve the performance but for me it will be clever for Ducati if they concentrate in something different, maybe in the future."
Rossi’s argument was supported by crew chief Jerry Burgess in comments he made during an exclusive interview in the July 27 issue of MCN.
Burgess said the ideal scenario would be for a company to be working on different concepts simultaneously and he told MCN: "It would be good to have some parallel project to make judgments from. It is very easy to say that there should be something more conventional. Not all companies go into racing to do what other companies do and these are decisions that are made at a much higher level than where I stand in the Ducati group. As a group, if we’re serious about our racing as we should be, something certainly has to change and we need more versions of what we’ve got in order to get further down the track. We need more pieces to back-to-back and more testing and then we’ll see where we are. Ideally in a company with enormous resources you could run two parallel projects or in some companies three or four depending on what manpower you’ve got. That determines how much you can do and how much different you can do."
When asked by MCN during a one-day test session at Brno earlier this week whether Ducati was considering an aluminium frame, Preziosi said: "We have an open mind. We are ready to use what we believe is better. We are exploring different solutions and I don't think the material is the key point but for sure shapes, stiffness and distribution of the stiffness to the length are things we want to explore to build up knowledge. Every time you do something new on the track you have compare with the existing solution, this is nothing special, it's what we did with the monocoque frame at the Barcelona test and asked Casey (Stoner) to compare."