Speaking to the Australian Grand Prix Corporation’s In the Fast Lane podcast, the former Ducati and Honda title winner explained that the narrow selection of nine (instead of 20) circuits, all in Europe, and five tracks hosting back-to-back rounds is potentially a ‘big benefit’ for some.
“I think it’s fantastic that the racing is up and going again and keeping the whole thing rolling as good as we can imagine right now,” Stoner said.
“Unfortunately, I am going to be a little opinionated with some things. I think the first one is calling it a world championship is a little bit difficult this year.
“You’re racing two races at the same circuit, and if this selection of circuit suits somebody then it really is a big benefit and they’re not really travelling around the world.
“Creating a ‘world championship’ is not something I’m a big fan of, but the racing itself is fantastic to get up and going.”
The Australian also gave his opinion on a range of other topics that have emerged this season, such as reigning champion Marc Marquez’s injury, Andrea Dovizioso leaving Ducati, Dani Pedrosa’s influence at KTM and Valentino Rossi being set to join Petronas Yamaha in 2021…
On Marquez being absent…
“I think without Marc there, quite honestly, there’s no leader at the moment. You see that by the results, the people standing on the top step of the podium. Marc was a clear leader and took that championship to another level.
“When I was there it was myself, Valentino, Jorge and Dani that were always at the front, stretching the field out. At the moment they don’t have that rider to do it, which is Marc, and show what you should be doing consistently each weekend.
“Because this season is condensed, and two races at each circuit, they sort of feel like after they get a half-decent result one week they’ll be okay the next week. It’s a very different championship and sort of upsetting the mix in a lot of ways like that.”
On Marquez’s attempted early return from injury…
“We’ve all ridden through injuries, if you don’t, you’re not going to be a MotoGP rider. Crashes happen, they are unavoidable and you have to ride through it. But an accident as severe as Marc’s was always going to be, in my opinion, quite impossible to [recover from] in that short timespan.
“I think if he gave it a week or two that first time around, he may have had enough strength and everything to then ride the rest of the season and slowly get towards the front. And the way the races have gone, he probably could still have been winning!
“But I think it was just far too premature coming back with an injury like that, without at least having it pinned both sides of his arm. It was always going to be a bit too weak, movement in there and things like that.
“It’s got to be hard for him because waiting an extra week or two could have given him a shot of the championship.”
On Dovizioso leaving Ducati…
“I’m pretty disappointed in Ducati. I think after all these years they may have learnt to really look after the riders that look after them, I suppose.
“Andrea has been trying to get things done, as I was, and a big reason why I left Ducati as a test rider was we just could not get them to make changes for the rider. If they didn’t see it on the data they didn’t really see it as relevant.
“Everything with a bike is about feel with the rider. It’s not like a car where you are strapped in and you’ve only got certain element like steering, brake and throttle.
“On a bike, just a bit of difference in the rider’s position will change the way the bike moves and feels. And when they’ve got someone who is really good at relaying that information, like Andrea, they’ve got to listen to him.
“It’s a big part of what Andrea’s unhappy about. It’s been years and years of everything going through data and being about the engine and aerodynamics.
“The Ducati is very close to being a fantastic bike but it’s always missing that one fundamental, which is turning. That comes from a rider and getting a feel for the chassis.”
On Rossi joining Petronas Yamaha for 2021…
“Valentino has done a heck of a lot in the past, but in these recent years he’s been a top ten guy. I still think he’s got the speed to go towards the front, but in general he’s just missing that last little edge that young guys are willing to push and find speed he doesn’t have, especially at the start of races. He generally gets there at the end and his experience shows.
“The factory team made the right decision putting Quartararo there [next year] and we’ll just have to see how Valentino does at the Petronas team. They’ve been doing a good job. Where does his motivation comes from? I really don’t know. He says he still loves it, but a guy like that loves winning.
“So it’d be hard for me personally to running fifth and sixth consistency and treating podiums like wins, when they are not. It’s very strange and hard to see him, to be honest, not fighting for the front positions a little bit more.”
On who should win the 2020 title…
“In my opinion, it’s probably between Andrea and Maverick on who should win, to be honest; they’ve had enough time, experience and are the top men in their teams. They should be in the top one-two. But they’ve both shown in the past to be inconsistent with their results.
“Anybody that hits a bit of form at this point, without Marc in the championship, is probably going to win the championship. As we’ve seen anything can happen and people that you thought were going to be runaways, clearly aren’t.”