Interview: Paolo Ciabatti On Cal Crutchlow, Jorge Lorenzo And Michelin Tires

The situation at Ducati was the talk of the paddock in Barcelona. With Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone and Cal Crutchlow being linked to Suzuki, Crutchlow having a contract for 2015, Ducati keen to retain the services of both Dovizioso and Iannone, and Iannone openly pushing for a seat in the factory Ducati team, the Bologna factory faces a series of complex contract negotiations. To check on the state of play with Ducati, we cornered Ducati Corse's MotoGP Project Director Paolo Ciabatti.

What was meant to be just a brief chat turned into a much longer conversation, on a range of subjects. Ciabatti gave his view of the situation with Cal Crutchlow, as well as his hopes of retaining both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. He discussed the rumors concerning an approach to Jorge Lorenzo, and reflected on having had Valentino Rossi in the Ducati team. He gave us an update on Ducati's plans to provide more Open bikes for 2015. And finally, he turned his attention to the return of Michelin, and Ducati's hopes for the new tire manufacturer. It appears that Ducati's problem this year is that Cal Crutchlow has a two-year contract, while you also have Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone who are both riding very well. And only two seats in the factory team...

Paolo Ciabatti: As most people in the paddock know, we have a two-year contract with Cal, but he has a way out of the contract. Having said so, we invested in Cal because we wanted very strongly to have him with Ducati, and the fact that so far things have not worked in the way we all hoped is due, honestly I don't believe in luck or bad luck, but in his case, we must admit some of the things have been particularly going wrong on the technical side with no explanation. Because he has exactly the same treatment as Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, and his team has actually been working together since a long time. Dovi's team was put together last year, after Valentino [Rossi] left, but Cal's team is Nicky's [Hayden] former team, and has been together for a long time. Daniele Romagnoli joined instead of Juan Martinez, but it is a very good team. So it's difficult for us to really understand why these things have happened.

But having said so, obviously he's not performing to the level we expected, he is not performing to the level which he expected, but we will keep supporting him 100%. Then it's up to him to decide what he wants to do. On the other side, as you said, we have the other two Andreas, who are doing a good championship. Obviously Dovizioso is more experienced, he's very consistent, and he's also helping a lot Gigi with very clear punctual feedback on the bike. His contract is expiring at the end of this year, and we would like to retain him. Also Andrea Iannone is having a very good season, obviously he is crashing a little bit more, but we must remember he is only in his second season in MotoGP. He has proven to be extremely fast, many times the fastest Ducati rider.

First of all, we have been able to run three factory riders this year, so we might be able to do the same thing for next year. So, the answer is, we like the three riders we have this year, for different reasons we would like to continue with them. We'll need to see if and how the Cal situation will evolve, because it will be really up to him.

MM: Can you say when he has to make a decision by?

PC: I can only tell you that it is in July, not exactly when. But I think we will find a good solution to have those riders with us, unless Cal decides to go somewhere else.

MM: There have also been rumors of talks with Jorge Lorenzo. Have you had any discussions? Would you like to have Jorge as a rider?

PC: You ask me if I want Lorenzo, if I want Marquez? I would be stupid to say no. It would be stupid and silly to say no. But also, we as a company are coming out of a situation recently with Valentino, where the expectations of Valentino joining Ducati were very high. Obviously, when you have a rider who is a winner and has the ambition to win races and win the championship, it might be right to consider him when you are sure that you have a winning bike. So, obviously, yes, we like Jorge, yes we like Marc, but I don't think we are yet in the position to offer him a bike capable of winning races. We hope that next year the new bike will be at that level, but obviously we need to prove it.

MM: It would be much more of a gamble without first having seen next year's bike. A gamble for everybody, but the same is true for Crutchlow, for Dovizioso, for Iannone. Because Suzuki are also looking for riders...

PC: I know. And they are a factory team, and we understand that actually, Davide Brivio admitted to speaking to Cal, Andrea and Andrea, he said so to the press. So on the one hand, we're happy, because it looks like we have the best three riders available! Joking apart, I think the two Andreas, they have been on a Ducati last year, which was a really difficult season, and they are seeing the improvement on this bike, and also the change of working method with Gigi Dall'Igna. So I think for them, it's easier to see that things are moving in the right direction, even though we are still struggling. The fact is that today, we have half of the gap which we had last year hear at Catalunya last year on a much faster race. If you were here last year on the bike, like Dovi was, then you can feel the positive side of things. Obviously, if you were riding a more competitive bike, or a bike which was more suitable to your riding style last year, and then you don't even finish the race for a technical reason, you cannot get the same positive attitude and belief that things are moving in the right direction. Going back to Lorenzo, obviously we have a very high opinion of Jorge, but I think it is not the right time yet.

MM: In January at the launch, you also talked about producing an Open bike to sell to the teams. Is that still the plan?

PC: Honestly, it is still a plan to make bikes available. Whether we sell or lease the bike is still under discussion, we might offer four bikes for customer teams, but first of all, we have a commitment to Pramac. Pramac has been with Ducati for many years, through good times and bad times, and I think as a company we like to consider loyalty as one of our values. And obviously our priority is to finalize our deal for next year with Paolo Campinoti of Pramac.

Having said so, we might be able to make available bikes for two more riders, but these two bikes would have to be Open, with Open software. Because four is the maximum of factory named riders, so only four riders can use our own software. But again, next year is also a time when everybody will have to develop the new software for 2016, so it could be also somehow an opportunity to understand if there will be further releases throughout the season of the common software. So, still we have actually had a few meetings last week at Ducati, to see what we could put on the table for Pramac obviously, and eventually also to see if we could supply bikes to another team.

MM: Michelin is coming in 2016. Will you be providing a bike for them to use for testing, or have you not even started talking about that yet?

PC: Obviously, we heard about, we know about Michelin, we know about the 17 inch wheels. We know that they already indicated a few tests that they would like to do. For sure they also want to go to Phillip Island, because it's very demanding on the tires, but honestly it's very early to say. I think they need to do a lot of testing, I think they want to do it with the main manufacturers, to develop the right tire for everyone.

MM: Exactly, because it seems to me that it is very important to have the right tire for all of the bikes, and not just for one particular bike or manufacturer.

PC: As you know, with the current tires, you must really adapt your bike very much to the tires. And there are complaints from other riders and other manufacturers about the problems created by the new construction of the tires. So I mean, I'm not criticizing Bridgestone, because they do a great job, but obviously, if, with the new generation of 17-inch tires, there will be the possibility that Michelin will develop something which is more neutral for all manufacturers, I think that would be an added benefit for the series, because it will make it even more competitive. Having said so, today there was a beautiful, just unbelievable race, down to the wire, so it was really a great show.

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One of the problems which brought about the CRT and now open classes in MotoGP was that the factory leases became so high that private teams couldn't afford them and fields dwindled dramatically. Ironic that Yamaha and now Ducati are going down the lease path again. This may become the new battlefront between Dorna and the private teams against the manufacturers.

So Cal is not performing up to par on a bike that has unlucky gremlins with him, and they want to keep Iannone who is being very vocal about being with the factory plus many times is the fastest Ducati even with the Open Software, but they will not know until Cal makes a decision to leave or not. Sounds to me like they are hoping Cal opts out... no?

Every time I have a question in my head about what could be happening behind the scenes in Motogp, you David, do an interview that answers all my questions. I am a fan of this website for as long as you keep it up here. Just want to say thanks.

"they want to keep Iannone who is being very vocal about being with the factory plus many times is the fastest Ducati even with the Open Software"

I'm starting to get confused and I would like for someone to clear that up. I thought that all Ducati riders are riding the same bike with the same software except for Yonnie Hernandez, who's riding the GP13.

So Dovi, Cal and Iannone are all riding a factory Desmosedici GP14 under which regulations? They're allowed to use the extra soft tire because they're open, and they're all using the Ducati software, which is ok, because Ducati have made it open to everyone? So basically, the Duc-software and the latest Magneti Marelli-software are identical? But because they are the only open team to have the resources to exploit this software to its full potential, they're running as an open factory entry (whatever that is). Which means they will be handicapped with less fuel available, should they score podiums and wins.

Is that about right?

I think that at the last minute the advanced Ducati/MM software version was withdrawn from the open teams as they did not have the resources to make use of it and Honda threw up a stink. The result was concessions to the Factory rules for manufacturers without recent multiple dry podium appearances, similar to Suzuki being allowed 9 engines in the last years of their GP effort.

Ducati is a Factory entry and all 4 of their bikes follow the Factory with concessions rules since they have not had good dry results in 1 (2?) years. The concessions are no frozen engines, more engines, more fuel and access to the soft tire option like the Open rules but are allowed proprietary software like the Factory entries. I think they also get unlimited testing.


Dovi, Cal & Iannone are all riding factory GP2014 Ducatis under the 'all the benefits of both rule sets' special rules for Ducati. Yonny is riding the GP2013 under the Open rules.

The special Ducati rules should also apply to Suzuki next year.

So Ciabatti doesn't seem to rate any of Ducati's riders very highly, well that is the least of their problems. They don't even know why Crutchlow's bike is going haywire. Cal and the Andreas need to be cautious though when casting eyes at Suzuki. With the lackluster testing results from Suzuki it may be a case of jumping out of the pan and into the fire riding for that team next year.

Great interview David and Pablo. However you conjured up such an unguarded discussion is magic.

One thing I appreciate in considerations of all sorts are these:

Flexible focus - short term, mid term, long term. Multiple perspective taking. Seeing the forest, seeing trees. Considering directions headed and manner of movement over snapshot of position. Conceptual synthesis. Non-duality rather than contrived "either/or" dichotemy. Appreciation of the human story unfolding as well as any one techical thread.

More specifically here now and lmore simply:

Cal Crutchlow, The Ducati, The Suzuki, Open rules, new tires, right now, next yr, and 2016. (Dare I say it...Casey Stoner, The Ducati, The Honda, "HRC fuel limit/engine limit" rules, new then Bstone tires, back is analagous). Cal is a bad ass motorcycle racer who is struggling on a Ducati that is nearing the end of an iteration. Know why we aren't hearing what Pirro is cooking up on the lab bike or what Duc is working on at tests? Think it is because nothing is going on? Think again! A whole new bike may be coming rather than any single piece. Think Cal and Duc need him to be excelling now for it to be a future fit? Think Duc can just decide to keep any given rider there? Think Cal's mouth needs to change, that he should be content w the bike as it is to be a good fit for Duc?

There is immense change now and the nature of this time benefits those that remain fluid. THE BSTONE FRONT TIRE IS GOING AWAY. Think the Michelin is going to be in any way similar? That we will have such stiff construction? Sticky grip? Bike behavior under braking, at turn in? Apexing at lean? Adhesion on drive out? Riding styles? Bike issues?

Factory engine management software is going away. The bikes are currently on the SIXTH generation of championship software. This is a 'moving target' that is slowly shifting like sand (as opposed to the tire change). Think Suzuki should have the new electronics onboard and dialed in for their bike now? Think ANYONE does? All the manufacturers are now at the table with their hands on the championship software development process, even Honda. 2015 will be a transition season. 2016 is the destination, and it is both quite clear AND shrouded in unknown. Don't ask me to clarify that, do it for yourself and consider that this is the process everyone is forced to undertake.

The fact that Cal and Duc can be having this experience, that Melandri and Hayate could have had that experience, these go together just as much as they contrast. NOTHING is static. NOTHING. ALL is interrelated as well.

A point is this: if one focused inflexibly on a limited range of factors, if one reacts in an effort to establish what they understand and 'believe', if one insists things should or should not be a certain is the way of the dodo bird. Here and now as much as ever. And is replicating what Ducati did in this last iteration of bike development before Gigi.

If Cal, his team, and Duc 'fail' now w this bike can that make sense and be okay? It is going to get left behind. Far and quickly. AND they still have to strive to succeed. Paradox here can foreshadow synergy later.

Cal on Gigi's next bike with Michelins and 2016 electronics could be a huge success, directly as an extension of this current failing!

As an aside from Marc's record shattering streak thus far 2014, there is little to keep viewers riveted to the screen outside of the cliffhanging suspense generated by the pair of factory Honda's, the pair of factory Yamaha's and their respective pilots. The recent battles between the GPQuatro group have been memorable.
Sad thing is the fact that GP1 is so deep in the doldrums as a class supposedly open for anyone to win it simply sucks. I know Dorna have moved mountains and threaded the needle to make the sport a level playing field for all, but the series on any Sunday resembles a 4 bike dirt track oval race. The only interest is which of 4 will win.
Ducati are grid fillers as are open,semi open, hopefull and no chance ensambles. This won't change much next year. Even the 2014 silly season does not warrant media excitement. GPQuatro stet for 2015/6.
2016 and Michelin,spec ECU will hopefully bear fruit.
Suzuki...a bit of a ho hum. As soon as they get bit in the bum they cur out. Sporadic flashes of promise and bye bye.
My guess is for Dovi and Iannone to be full factory for the next 2 years. Capirex can tell his countrymen about Suzuki ad nauseum.
Ciabatti has no choice here. At all costs they have to keep Dovi and Joe Maniac. Cal has done what he could. He has endured a string of bad luck coupled to bike failures and lets asume its neither the fault of the team nor the rider, the writing on the wall should be pretty clear. Move on. Jump before you get pushed.
Furthermore, Ducati should also embrace Moto3. This is clearly the race of the weekend NOT TO MISS. This is where the Marquez's came from. This is where Ducati can build from the bottom up and not top down. Their tallent scouts can scalp hunt for a minimal investment. Is this not how HRC became the dominant force they are today?
Fact is, Cal wanted factory, got factory and for whatever reason it has not worked out. Rather than waste another year with Borgo Panigale,like Ben Spies (Yamaha/Ducati), he may aswell lock down the Suzuki ticket for 2 years...if they offer it to him... 30'yish etc.

>>As an aside from Marc's record shattering streak thus far 2014, there is little to keep viewers riveted to the screen outside of the cliffhanging suspense generated by the pair of factory Honda's, the pair of factory Yamaha's and their respective pilots. The recent battles between the GPQuatro group have been memorable.

So apart from one of the most talented and youngest riders ever breaking records and riding on the edge and the top 4 fastest guys in the world dicing it out all the way to the last lap there is not much to watch? Jeez, can't please some people.

>>Sad thing is the fact that GP1 is so deep in the doldrums as a class supposedly open for anyone to win it simply sucks.

Have you been watching this season? The racing is great. Anyone can win, as long as they cross the finish line first on the last lap. If you mean less talented riders winning, I have no interest in tilting the playing field to allow that to happen. Who else on the grid has the skill and talent to win? Nearly everyone else has had their chance and come up short. And the up and comers will get their chance if they earn it.

>>I know Dorna have moved mountains and threaded the needle to make the sport a level playing field for all

Ask Ducati how that worked out for them.

>>as are open,semi open, hopefull and no chance ensambles.

Same as its always been.

>>This won't change much next year.

Gigi will have his new from scratch bike next year and if results don't improve then we may see the last of Ducati.

>>Furthermore, Ducati should also embrace Moto3....This is where Ducati can build from the bottom up and not top down.

Because they have had so much success building great handling bikes? Because the rev limit neuters any advantage of their desmo system? Ducati has always had bike problem not a rider problem and don't seem to have problems getting riders to sign so diluting their GP resources on a Moto3 effort is not exactly the best thing to bring them to the front of the big boy's grid.

>>Is this not how HRC became the dominant force they are today?

IMO it was their engineering skill.


It's quite clear you don't know what you're talking about. The last 2 races were great and there are a lot of interesting moving pieces. MotoGP has never been a free for all, there have always been favored winners and losers. This season is a good one though.

All views are valid, beauty in the eye of the beholder etc, but it's simply a myth that there's ever been a time in living memory where you might see a totally unpredictable win each week and a complete jumble of placings and bikes by riders/teams across the season. For as long as I've been watching motorsport, each class in each season has been dominated by one, two or three teams and riders. The two usually coincide, no surprise there. I suspect the boredom is through it having been Yamaha and Honda for 7 or 8 unbroken years, though in reality, it's more like 20 with a couple of brief interludes by suzuki and ducati. I think most of us agree that it would be good to see some change there, but even if there were 4 or 5 manufacturers as serious contenders, I suspect we'd still see the same group of riders at the front for a few years, with only incremental, natural turnover. They'd just hop around those teams more, something that hardly happens these days.

Maybe you're right, maybe Ducati should change tack and go for Moto3. I doubt they will though, they are a big beast of a bike type of manufacturer and there would be something almost sad about seeing a 125 wannabee duke on the streets. It'd be like a norton moped.

The recent close racing is a mirage - the qualifying times, actual results, and state of the championship speak for themselves. Two or three close races shouldn't paper over the cracks in the facade. Anybody who can't perceive MotoGP has a serious problem is willfully blind. Race and research budgets are going to decide future winners unless the rules are tweaked to diminish the effect of financial muscle.
I don't think Moto3 has much to offer Ducati unless they're planning to revamp their entire product line. WSBK makes far more sense. Just like with F1 and the neglected LeMans series, MotoGP steals all the attention, but there's little doubt WSBK offers a more competitive and varied spectacle. IMO people have been seduced by the supposed 'glamor' of MotoGP which now resembles a vacuous big-budget Tom Cruise movie. Something like 'Transformers' on two wheels - all noise, but with little relevance to the real world.

The serious problem is that people actually think you can equalize racing with financial constraints. All that does it make it more convoluted.

IMO (never asked for, often supplied) the top class should be almost completely unrestricted and a pure race to the top for any factory that can dare.

The technical rules should read like this : All bikes must have 2 wheels. End.

I have about zero interest in the 'slow qualifying' half of the grid except as a vehicle for the up and coming to learn the trade. They used to do that in 'moto2' before it became it the Honda cup in the name of savings.

May the strong survive.

Let's get real - your unrestricted idea would doom the series to permanent domination by Honda. If you want to see the consequences of a championship dominated by one team, take a look at the current AMA championship.
By contrast, observe the success of the NFL - where the governing body tweaks the system to keep the teams competitive.

Cal opts for suzuki... Iannone takes cals ride.... Dovizioso stays put ... an hire Jack Miller and put him on Iannones bike, just my 2 cents.

straight to Ducati is probably the craziest idea I can think of. And a near certain career death spell.

Another option would be for Cal and Joe to trade rides. With factory support to Pramac it's a better option than Suzuki for Crutchlow.

On further thought I agree, I think, with Moonshrink in that Gigi may well deliver a competitive bike for next season. Best for Cal to dig in, remold his crew ( a new software boffin would be a good place to start) and contribute as much as Dovi to the direction of the next bike. A tall order for an Brit in an Italian team where communication is extremely important now, but he can pull it of I reckon.

Anomalovaho, I appreciate your 2 cents. On the other hand, Jack, like my countryman Brad Binder, stepped off HRC MGP3 junk back when they opted for KTM and Mahindra respectively. The pair have been doing an impressive job within the constrainsts of their respective budgets and teams. Sadly, they are outgunned by the current Honda 250 4 stroke. Brute power week in and week out, defeats them in spite of the rider's eforts.
Back to Ducati. They are the only outfit that 'outbrute' Honda with the L-4 configuration they both use in GP1.
Back to base. This is exactly why I reckon Ducati should more than dabble a foot in Moto3 and look to employ the likes of Miller, Binder, Oliviera and many others.
Honda nurture the cream of their Honda crop as do Yamaha from an early age. No objection, understand! Its about winning! Winning is not everything...its the only thing! Ducati should start winning where they actually have a chance...Moto3.
Teams like Aprilia,would be well advised to do likewise.
Comments from VW/Audi group accepted. I did enjoy the Le Mans 24 Hour as ever.

David, or anyone else here. The move to 17 inch wheels, can someone explain what's to be gained from this? It's the moto gp topic I lack any sort of data on. thanks!

17 inch wheels are the standard size for sport bikes on the road. I'd guess Michelin wants to work with a more relevant size.

Without being an engineer - smaller tires produce less angular momentum allowing easier change of direction (smaller gyroscopic effect).

Disclaimer : I may be completely talking out of my ass.

You're ass seems correct. I race an SV650 and use 17's at 160mm wide Michelin Power Ones. It would make sense for michelin to want to move to the same size tire as street bikes. Direction change is made easier by a more narrow tire, but what you say makes sense as well.


Also just cause they have 16.5 rims doesn't mean the tires themselves are any smaller in diameter at the road, in fact those things look mighty meaty. So my guess is with the bigger rim would bring less side wall and depending on how Michenen choose to go different profiles. Which would greatly effect the feel.
As for why the change. My thoughts are to prevent comparisons to bstone.

I've been meaning to stump up for a site supporter subscription for quite a while now and this article was the straw that broke the camel's back (in a good way).

The main reason for having a smaller size wheel is that it provides a bigger tyre footprint when leaned over. incresing the wheel to 17 inches will mean a smaller contact patch size, thus reducing grip and thus cornering speeds. A stated aim of Dorna et al.

You are assuming the outside diameter of the tire is the same whether the wheel is 16.5" or 17'. I don't think that is a valid assumption. As far as I know, Michelin has not said the aspect ratio will be reduced when they introduce MotoGP tires for 17" rims.

If they were to increase the overall size of tyre and wheel then the gyroscopic forces increase exponentially- there will be no manufacturer who wishes this. Hence overall size will remain the same. Thus, as said, the contact patch will be reduced by an increase in wheel size.

Bet cha?

Coulda shoulda woulda, but Cal probably should have sat tight at Tech3 if he had that option. He now finds himself racing for the poorest performing factory outfit in MotoGP, with them nodding towards the door because, surprise surprise, he's had nothing but trouble with a bike that is acknowledged as something of a lemon (and I am a Ducati fan). You can't blame him for wanting a factory ride of course, but ...

I really fear that Cal will serve out the rest of his career in frustration, when I think he definitely could make a go of it on a decent machine. I am a big fan of Cal – he is a tough and determined racer - and I'd really like to think there would be better on offer for him than a choice between Ducati and Suzuki.

In his situation I'd sit tight at Ducati because going to Suzuki just seems like moving one step closer to the MotoGP exit door.

I would bet that the outside diameter of those 16.5 Bridgestones is at least as big as the diameter of a typical 17 inch tire. They appear to have a pretty tall sidewall on them. I have always been a Michelin man and I am excited to see them back in G.P. and have to say I like the idea of them working with the 17 incher. I'm thinking that this may be one situation where trickle down DOES work.

When Cal was considering going to Ducati, i think there was an article written on this site about his option with ducati an how money was a factor in his decision, well i think he got like 145 million dollars to take that seat, so i do not feel sorry for him, actually i am happy for the guy, i mean, yeah money ain't everything, but it sure ain't bad to have a big chunk of cheddar in your pocket.

Well for 145 million I'd actually consider riding for Ducati too :-P

More like 1.45 million (per year) would be more accurate.

Jeepers, I'd do it for 0.145m and grin till it hurt in the post race press conference. I was starting to feel he was getting a very rough time of it from people on here but £3m for 2 years disappointment? I'll be lucky to get that much for 50 years worth of crap and frustration.

None of the riders aboard the Ducatis are in love with their current front end feel/feeling .... I mean, from my lowly point of view, Ducati in MotoGP has had some success and surprises, but, a bit of career resume blemishing inflicted ...

Can he build the bike he has been asked to, has been expected to, that he wants to?
These are the questions that all riders are asking and Audi/Ducati and the fans need/want answers to.
My guess is that the tyres will not be such a problem - that's going to be a common factor in the paddock and they have enough experience now of the Panigale on 17's (which is doing better than I expected in WSB) to understand the issues involved in that evolution.
I still don't understand this 'braking' and 'front end' problem and it's pretty clear after all the debate amongst forums and in the design meetings that anyone who does know the specific problem and the answers is not going to announce it here or anywhere else. It has to be something fundamental around engine/gearbox packaging because, surely, everything else has been tried (and JB mentioned it).
HRC seem to be the best-researched of all and Yamaha may be close. The range of technology used by Ducati over recent times suggests that they did not know what makes a good chassis frame. The Aprilia's struggles as a CRT suggest that MGP answers are not there either. An interview with Paul Bird's team might elicit some Ciabatti-like insights that could tell us what is/might be holding back the PBM effort (money, yes but also the tech issues they have been 'struggling' with). PBM wanted more input/investment from Piaggio but that does not seem to be happening and I suspect that PBM will be one of the teams available for MarcVDS to take slots from.
That both Dovi and Cal appear not to know what is happening and what the new bike will offer is their big issue. It's going to be about faith, because the current world of MGP is about refining the machine, not blowing the competition into the weeds; and that takes time and effort. If Dall'Igna can come up with a winner or near-winner in its first iteration he will be a hero. Realistically......Suzuki may be a year or two further down the development road (their last competitive bike was not such a slouch handling-wise).
RdP is no slouch either and the fact that he wants to ride the bike and hasn't been throwing himself into the scenery on a regular basis must also say something. Laverty's performance and wishing to get back on after busting his foot also says something about ride-ability, if not speed.
It’s not about money (except for Dovi perhaps and he seems to be valued enough not to have too much trouble getting a good deal). Both riders will not move for less and at their level it’s about who can offer the machinery, support, R&D, and progress. Neither Cal nor Dovi are worse riders than they were 4 months and 6 races ago and they will stay or go based on their chances of podiums next year.
I wouldn’t be that surprised to see RdP and E Laverty on the Suzuki next year. No one has mentioned Smith in the context of Suzuki, but his work ethic, technical appreciation, and speed has to be under consideration as well (there are other fast/faster youngsters but do they have the understanding to help, as opposed to just being fast?). Knowing the Yamaha (both I4’s), as he undoubtedly must, might be useful……

I think that's a has been said here and elsewhere the rolling diameter is the same. The wheel gets bigger, the tyre gets lower profile, the contact patch reduces.
The gyroscopic effect might be less as the additional spoke length is probably less than the tyre mass removed, but it's not a big factor.
The implications of Michelins 'greener' tyres might be a bigger influence in grip levels and lean angles.