Contrary to common belief, winglets were not banned but were permitted under strict new rules preventing them from protruding from the general shape of the bike. Ducati Corse went back to the drawing board, looking for better ways to improve the bikes within the new rules.
“They tried to make it impossible for us,” says Ciabatti, “but we managed to make something new, again.” This commitment to innovation paid off in a 2017 season that was the team’s best in 10 years, with six race wins – a feat repeated in 2018, when Ducati Corse won seven races and took second again in the manufacturer’s standings, another best-for-a-decade placing.
“In 2018,” says Ciabatti, “we took the development further in the new rules, and now both riders use the same aerodynamic configuration throughout the season. Funnily enough, after a race test in Valencia before the start of the season, we saw one of our main competitors come out with a solution almost identical to ours. We can't always patent what we do, we can only try to come up with our aerodynamic package as close to the start of the season as possible, so that nobody has time to copy us immediately.”
Ducati's history of innovation helps here because the team has always had to work fast to outsmart larger, better-funded teams. “The fact that everything is decided herein Bologna by a relatively small group of people makes our decision process quite quick,” explains Ciabatti. “Our competitors are a little more complex and take more time to do things. We know that, and we always try to move quicker than our rivals.” It’s a recipe for success that may make Ducati Corse world champion soon enough.