Iannone spent four years with Ducati in the premier class – first with Pramac then as a factory rider – between 2013-2016 but these were the dark days for the famous Italian manufacturer.
A switch to Suzuki was a disaster and Iannone is now remembered for failing a doping test, resulting in a four-year ban, and his life as a celebrity in Italy.
“Andrea had the misfortune to arrive in MotoGP in 2013, the worst year for Ducati and, instead, a glorious year for MarcMarquez – with whom he had fought the Moto2 title the previous year – who won his first world title in the premier class,” Marco Rigamonti told Slick Magazine.
“For someone like Andrea, very sure of himself, of his abilities and proud, it was difficult to accept.
“Basically he is a good guy, but this character sometimes has pushed him to give more than 100% to win; In other cases, it did not allow him to make self-criticism, therefore to improve himself.
“His romantic relationships, then, have perhaps worsened the situation even more: finding himself on the covers of magazines and being recognised has done nothing but feed these characteristics.
“The move to Suzuki, then, was a mistake, by his own admission: he left in the year in which Ducati was able to take a further step forward, refusing a bike for which he would have been the first rider, the reference point for development.
“In addition, he moved to a team where he found a way of working that, immediately, he did not like.”
Iannone had a difficult relationship with fellow factory rider Andrea Dovizioso. But, when Iannone left, Dovizioso secured three consecutive second-place finishes.
Might Iannone’s fortune have been different if he didn’t depart Ducati?
“It is [hard to say],” Rigamonti believes. “Suzuki for him was, certainly, a [problem], but history is not made with ‘ifs’.
“There was no certainty that with Ducati he would win. There are endless variables.
“Just think of how Dovizioso’s career has changed with Iannone’s exit from the garage: with the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo, Dovi, seeing all the problems of his new teammate, had a great injection of self-esteem that allowed him to then reach all the victories and podiums he obtained.
“Going from chasing your teammate to beating him every Sunday, if you add that he’s a five-time world champion, gives you a lot of confidence. But, even in this case, if Iannone had stayed, we cannot know how it would have gone.”
Iannone’s ban expires in December, making him eligible for a comeback in 2024. Although returning to MotoGP is surely a step too far, he could seek offers from World Superbikes.