Factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso admitted he was confused by the tactics of MotoGP World Championship leader Marc Marquez during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello.
The Italian was forced to come through Q1 and despite successfully negotiating the first qualifying session, Dovizioso never had the pace to challenge for the pole position.
In spite of this, Dovizioso came across his title rival on more than one occasion during the fifteen-minute session. The first of which was when on his first run, Marquez put a firm move on the Italian, pushing the Ducati man wide.
The second time was when Marquez used the Italian as a marker on his eventual pole lap, catching Dovizioso and using his slipstream to snatch the pole position from Quartararo, whilst Dovizioso had to settle for ninth.
Marquez admitted that he used Dovizioso as a target in his second run after believing Ducati instructed Michele Pirro to follow him. Dovi said he was aware of Marquez, but still confused by his tactics.
“On the first lap, I had the medium rear, and I wasn’t so fast,” explained Dovizioso.
“He was behind me and he caught me and passed me, even if it was on the limit. But from that moment I saw that he was watching me and following me and honestly I didn’t understand why.
“With the second tyre he waited for me, but this is not a big problem. He can do what he wants, but I don’t understand why he chose to follow me. But he got the pole, so I have to say he did well.”
When asked if Marquez got his strategy spot on, Dovizioso said it wasn’t just a strategic move by the World Champion, instead believing that Marquez is the master of playing with his rivals.
“It’s not a question of being able to get the strategy right,” he said. “Marc is really strong at so many things, but he is particularly strong when it comes to playing with rivals.
“When he is on the track, he sets the pace he wants and when he wants. Then when he wants to push himself one hundred percent it’s something only few have.
“He knows it and plays it a lot. This is why he is often in the right place at the right time, as he was with me.”
When asked about tomorrow’s race, the Italian believes a lot will come down to tyre consumption with the demanding nature of the circuit meaning it will be impossible to push from the start.
“I believe that tomorrow nobody will be pushing one hundred percent from the start,” said Dovizioso.
“I think that everyone has problems with tyre consumption. Mugello is very demanding from a physical point of view, so the sum of these factors, I think, will lead everyone to avoid giving the maximum immediately.”