Pramac Ducati rider Scott Redding says he is “glad” he missed out on a current-spec MotoGP bike last year, as it puts the pressure on teammate Danilo Petrucci.
Redding came out second best in an intra-team battle to Petrucci late last year as the pair fought to ride Pramac’s only GP17, with the loser having to make do with a year-old GP16 machine.
Despite ending up with theoretically inferior equipment for the 2017 campaign, Redding outshone Petrucci in last weekend’s season opener in Qatar, topping FP2 and qualifying sixth on the strength of that time.
Redding converted his grid slot into a seventh-place finish, ending up best of the satellite riders, while Petrucci retired with a suspected battery issue after qualifying 11th.
The British rider said knowing he has an older specification of bike makes his life easier, as it means Petrucci will end up in “big trouble” for not beating him.
“It’s not really a battle now between me and Danilo,” said Redding. “It’s definitely a bit easier knowing he has a different bike, and that it’s better.
“So if he beats me, that’s how it should be; if I beat him, he is in big trouble.
“That’s something for me that is probably going to help me, a little bit less pressure, a little bit less stress – especially when things aren’t going right.
“If it doesn’t go right for me, I’m a little bit on the side. If it doesn’t go right for him, people know he has a GP17, and if he can’t perform with it he is going to be the only one that feels the pressure.
“In a way, when I look at the problems at he’s been having, I’m actually quite glad I didn’t have the bike at this moment in time.”
Distance to leaders a “step forward”
As well as finishing as top satellite rider in Qatar, Redding said ending up less than 10 seconds behind race winner Maverick Vinales at the finish was also encouraging after a tough winter.
“If you asked me two tests ago saying that you would finish seventh, I would have laughed,” said the 24-year-old. “But we got our head down, we knew what we had to do.
“I couldn’t get much grip from the rear tyre and I couldn’t really get the bike to turn, so that’s why you see the lap times didn’t change from the first lap to the last lap, I was consistent all the way through.
“In the end I’m happy to be 9-10 seconds from the leader [at the end of the race], I think that’s the closest I’ve been for a long time in a dry race.
“That’s the real positive to me because always last year it was 20-25 seconds, so to be under 10 seconds is a step forward.”
Additional reporting by Mitchell Adam