Valentino Rossi says he is encouraged by Audi's "ambitious project" for Ducati following a meeting with the German giant's chairman Rupert Stadler at the Sachsenring.
The Italian's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks, the result both of Casey Stoner's impending retirement and Rossi's occasional criticisms of the Desmosedici. After Audi completed its long-rumored takeover of Ducati in April, Rossi had the chance to meet with Stadler at the German Grand Prix, in which he finished sixth.
The Italian said the talks had left him optimistic about Ducati's ability to be competitive in the future.
"I spoke directly with the boss of Audi and they have a strong intent about supporting Ducati in the future to regain its competitive edge," Rossi said. "It's a very ambitious project and I'm happy about it – and they're counting on me."
Asked about next year's project, Rossi said it would be prudent to stay with this year's bike and correct its faults rather than attempting to design an entirely new chassis.
"I think the intelligent thing to do is to try to evolve and improve step by step by working on the bike we already have, because to start over with a completely new project usually needs more time to sort it out than anything else," he told Italia1. "We need to take the positives from the bike we have now, but most of all to try to solve the negatives that make us lose time. For a few months myself and my team have given some very clear indications, so we need to work with that.
"In my opinion it would be more intelligent to go step by step in order to try to get competitive again, rather than turn things upside down again."
Asked whether Audi's influence could lead to instant improvements, Rossi said: "Unfortunately that's not the case, because Audi build cars and not bikes, and they don't have a magic wand either. We go to Mugello next; I've always gone well there, so let's hope we can do better because it's our home race.
"On the following Monday we'll have something new so let's hope we can improve more. Unfortunately, so far we haven't improved much, so let's hope we can take a step forward, but I sincerely don't know what to expect. We need to be optimistic and have faith."