The most obvious obstacle to a potential Lorenzo-Ducati reunion is that the three-time champion’s Honda deal expires at the end of 2020, and there are clauses which punish any party that wants to break it in advance.
Motorsport.com understands that Honda hasn’t received word directly from Lorenzo that he wants to leave, and has only heard of the possibility from outside sources.
Lorenzo won three races last year on the Ducati, but has suffered from several injuries since – missing most of the rest of that season, and having been far from healthy this year as well.
He has missed four races in a row now, and HRC is thought to have been a little “unsettled” by the active social media presence of a rider whose focus should be on recovering to full fitness.
Another obstacle is Pramac being in the dark over the situation, with Ducati itself being the main driving force behind Lorenzo’s potential return.
Francesco Bagnaia’s place at the team for 2020 had been secured already last year, and Jack Miller has long been considered a shoo-in to continue with Pramac as well.
But while his 2020 deal has been theoretically agreed since the Sachsenring, Miller and Pramac are still waiting for the offer from Ducati to arrive.
On the Thursday at the Red Bull Ring, when the Lorenzo rumours emerged, Miller suggested that Ducati delaying his contract renewal must mean there’s “some truth” to the reports.
“I thought we were waiting on paperwork but clearly it is not the case,” Miller said in the pre-Austria GP press conference.
“The last I heard prior to this weekend was, we were deciding on coming up with a budget because both Pecco and I will have to have 2020 bikes so I understood, we were quite patient. We will see now.
“I didn’t at all [believe the rumours] prior to this weekend but after some feedback I had, there is for sure some truth behind the rumours.
“Pramac want to keep me, I FaceTime called with Paolo [Campinoti, Pramac CEO] this morning and he is 100 percent certain he [wants to] keep me.”
A Pramac source informed Motorsport.com that the man behind the latest developments is Ducati general manager Gigi Dall’Igna, who was able to convince CEO ClAudio Domenicali that bringing Lorenzo back would be worthwhile.
This is particularly noteworthy, as it was Domenicali who ultimately decided upon replacing Lorenzo with Danilo Petrucci last year.
Bringing Lorenzo back, apart from being essentially an admission that letting him go last year was a mistake, would also be ominous for Andrea Dovizioso, who didn’t have the best relationship with the Spaniard during their time as teammates.
Dovizioso stressed recently that Ducati needs to focus on improving its turning, the bike’s long-standing Achilles’ heel, and has criticised the team for never making that a priority.
As for Lorenzo, a move back to Ducati, which he finally made work in the middle of last year, would very likely be a fruitful change compared to his torrid time with Honda so far.
He arrived to Honda as a potential equal to Marquez, a view that has certainly changed after he failed to finish in the top 10 in his seven races on the RC213V so far.
A premature exit would thus not be the most gracious way of repaying the faith Honda had placed in Lorenzo last year, when the Spaniard seemed short on MotoGP options and was facing the possibility of retirement.
The exact timing of Lorenzo’s return from his current injury, which will be crucial for this storyline to progress, is yet to be confirmed, with the next round at Silverstone coming up in two weeks’ time.
Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images