Filippo Preziosi Interview: On Ducati's Four Riders For 2013, Future Developments, And The Spec ECU
Ducati Corse director and Ducati's engineering guru Filippo Preziosi was a busy man at Misano. Besides overseeing the race weekend at the circuit and preparing for the test on Monday, Preziosi spent a lot of time talking to a number of journalists. MotoMatters.com was one of the lucky few who were offered ten minutes with Preziosi, and so we jumped at the chance. In the interview, Preziosi covered a number of topics: the Ducati junior team strategy, Ducati's four riders for 2013, the current and expected developments for next season were all among the subjects discussed. Preziosi also talked about the effect of the spec ECU which will be introduced for 2014, and gave the impression he was not necessarily opposed to the idea. Below is what Preziosi had to say to us:
MotoMatters.com: Next year you have the Ducati junior strategy in place. Can you explain how you see that working in terms of development? Will you have four equal riders or two riders who get equipment ahead of the other two?
Filippo Preziosi: I think the main difference between next year and the years before is that we agreed that every development that will be developed by the company will be supplied to the satellite team by default. In the past it was an option that the satellite teams had, but there are some commercial issues, so sometimes they did it, sometimes they didn't. Now we are more close, so when we develop something for our factory team, we want to supply to the satellite teams, if the riders like the changes. So we would like to be as strong as we can.
MM: Having four riders helps?
FP: It's not a commercial issue now. In the past, it was mainly a commercial issue, now it is something that is more linked to the company.
MM: The statement announcing the signing of Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone for the Pramac junior team was issued by Ducati Corse. Does this mean they have contracts with Ducati, or with Pramac?
FP: I don't want to go into commercial issues in depth. But for sure, they are really linked to the company.
MM: Can you explain how having four riders on the same bike fits in with working with Audi? Do you expect the pace of development to increase because of the assistance from Audi?
FP: For sure now having two different bikes between the factory team and the satellite team, it is difficult to compare the data. Of course if you have similar bikes, also in their specs, for all the riders, we can compare the data easily from an engineering point of view, so it helps to develop the bike.
MM: You now have four different riders: Andrea Iannone, who is young, inexperienced, but fast; Nicky Hayden, who has a lot of experience with the Ducati; Ben Spies, who has experience of the factory Yamaha; and Andrea Dovizioso, who has experience with both the Honda and the Yamaha. Was it important to have that mix?
FP: It's a good mix. We were speaking with different riders, but we believe that the riders that we have contracted add real value to the company, so this is important for us.
MM: What do you expect to get from Audi, and in what kind of timescale?
FP: It's too early to speak about that. They just started to have a look at the company and at Ducati Corse. For sure I'm very proud to be part of a company that has such a high level of technology.
MM: But you haven't spoken about how they can help you and what you need from them?
FP: We are just at the beginning of this collaboration.
MM: Do you have an idea of how the bike is going to change for next year?
FP: For sure we will develop the bike during the end of this season. We have some material we tested two weeks ago. We have some material to test on Monday, and based on the results of that test in terms of rider comments, lap times, and data, we will do the next steps. For me, the crucial point will be the Valencia post-race tests, because based on the comments we can collect, especially from Dovi and Ben, who are coming from a bike that is performing at a very high level, we can understand what their riding style needs and in which areas we are strong and in which areas we can improve the bike.
MM: So the bike which Valentino Rossi is riding here at Misano will be the basis for the bike at Valencia?
FP: We changed the technology one year ago [when Ducati switched from a carbon-fiber monocoque subframe to an aluminium perimeter frame - MM] and we are developing the bike keeping this technology. So for this moment, and if you look at what the other companies are doing, it is very similar. Of course we are ready and we did it, because in Mugello, we tested something that we called a different bike, because we had different electronics in a different position, different fuel tank, different frame and different swingarm. So considering that the front fork is the same for every company, and the wheels, it means the bike was different. But we will keep the small wheel in the front and the big wheel in the back [laughs].
MM: I saw also your reaction yesterday to the interview which Masao Furusawa did, speaking of the meetings you had. I understand you were surprised to see the details of those meetings published.
FP: Surprised means that I was not expecting this. Because usually I spoke with Masao, and I spoke with other guys without that [being published]. But I'm not angry, because what he told was good words about me, so I'm happy about that.
MM: The impression I got was that he was very impressed by your attitude and your commitment.
FP: He should not be surprised, because he is the same. I like Masao very much, because as a person, he is someone who has a real passion for motorcycles. So we spoke with him, even in the past when we were competitors, we had discussions with him even about technical issues, of course never giving away secrets, but sometimes we would speak like you would speak over a beer.
MM: In 2013 the spec ECU will be made available for anyone who wants to use it, and it seems like Carmelo Ezpeleta is determined to introduce the spec ECU for 2014. How do you see the spec ECU for 2014?
FP: I told many times that from the point of view of costs, and to close the gap between manufacturers and small assemblers, a spec ECU is very effective. On the other side, from the technical point of view, you have not any more to develop strategies and better understand in the chassis the vehicle dynamics you have to control. So it's a trade-off. Depending on the economic situation in the world, you have to go in one direction or the other. So we will discuss inside the company and we will decide our position.