Three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo is likely to have to accept a pay cut if he wishes to remain at Ducati in 2019, sporting director Paolo Ciabatti says.
The contracts of both Lorenzo and teammate Andrea Dovizioso expire at the end of the season, although Ducati has made it clear its intention is to keep both riders for 2019 and beyond.
However, the pair both find themselves in very different situations compared with two years ago, when their current deals were signed.
Dovizioso's base salary is around 2m euros a year, a number agreed before the Italian had won a race for Ducati - but since then he has won seven times and challenged Marc Marquez for last year's title.
On the other hand, Lorenzo was lured from Yamaha on a deal worth at least 12m euros a year but failed to win a single race as he took longer than expected to acclimatise to the Ducati.
Ciabatti underlined that Ducati won't be able to repeat that offer when it comes to the current cycle of contract negotiations, but admitted the Italian marque is likely to have to "reward" Dovizioso with an increased salary.
“The intention is to keep working with both riders, but our economical limit is clear," Ciabatti told Motorsport.com.
"We will talk with our sponsors because Telecom Italia decided to leave us and when we get an idea of how much money we can provide, then will be easier to talk to the managers [of the riders].
“What is evident is that the situation is very different compared to 2016. When we hired Jorge, he had a very important offer from Yamaha for two more years and was the current world champion.
"When we renewed with Andrea, in the middle of 2016, he had never won with Ducati. We will reward what he did in 2017.
"A rider like him, with a contract expiring at the end of this year, is in a stronger negotiating position than before.
“[Ducati CEO] Claudio Domenicali said it at the team’s launch. Ducati made an effort to attract Lorenzo’s attention, but this was in a specific moment.
"I don’t think we can give Jorge the same amount of money as when he arrived at the team."
Translation by Irene Aneas