Ducati technical director Filippo Preziosi says Nicky Hayden must take the most credit for turning his form around and becoming a frontrunner again.
The 2006 MotoGP champion struggled in the first part of his Ducati career, and was a long way off teammate Casey Stoner's pace last year. But he made substantial gains in the second half of last season and over the winter, and has been a top-five contender in 2010. At Jerez earlier this month Hayden beat Stoner in a straight fight for the first time since they became teammates.
"Credit to him for his improvements," Preziosi told Italian magazine Motosprint. "Nicky never gave up – he has carried on being positive and he has always given us plenty of feedback and comments.
"He is a serious and precise person, and he organized his work in a maniacal way. His work method may be a bit complex, but little by little he gets there. That's why I'm saying that credit goes to himself."
Hayden said that the 2010 Ducati, which features a very different engine configuration designed to make the bike more rider-friendly, had proven much more to his taste, and thanked the team for backing him during his tough times.
"The new engine is certainly smoother and easier to take advantage of, and on top of that there is a new chassis that improves the situation," he said. "But there are other elements to consider – with this being my second season at Ducati, I know both the team and the bike better.
"Most of all, communication has improved – now the team better understands my needs. So credit also goes to Ducati, which have worked hard for me, too."