Nicky Hayden says he wants to stay on at Ducati for 2010 as he is determined to get to grips with its bike despite his tough start.
Like Casey Stoner's previous teammates at the Italian squad, Hayden has struggled to adapt his riding style to the Desmosedici. An accident in Qatar also set him back, but in recent events his form has improved, with a breakthrough fifth place at Laguna Seca and fourth on the grid – the best qualifying position for any of Stoner's Ducati teammates – in Germany.
Whereas both Loris Capirossi and Marco Melandri moved on from Ducati after just one difficult year alongside Stoner, Hayden says he hopes to convince Ducati to keep him on for another season.
"It's a two-year deal but it's their option if they want to bring me back," he told AUTOSPORT. "It's been hard but now we're making progress. I looked at this as a challenge from the beginning and I don't want to give up. I want to say hey I conquered it, I was able to ride that bike, I was able to do it. We'll see if they want to bring me back."
He admitted that so far he had probably not done enough to earn a contract extension.
"I know at some stage I'm going to have to put up some results, I know fifth and eighth probably isn't going to be enough to get Marlboro or Ducati - they might want to try somebody else at that spot," said Hayden. "We'll see, but I'm not too worried about that. Obviously you worry about your future and what's going on but I think we can continue."
Hayden's Sachsenring weekend went downhill after he crashed heavily both late in qualifying – collecting Niccolo Canepa in the process – and in the warm-up, and his strong fourth on the grid only translated to an eighth-place finish. He reckoned that he had got carried away and pushed too hard in his hurry to turn his season around.
"I believe in myself a lot. That's maybe what caught me out a bit in Germany and why I crashed a couple of times," said Hayden. "I saw the front and thought I can be there this weekend, got a bit excited and threw it away making a mistake. But I believe in myself fully, that's not what I'm lacking.
"But sitting around here saying it is one thing, doing on Sunday is always a different story. Saying it doesn't mean much, I've got to go and do it and prove it. But I think I can."