Casey Stoner says Ducati hired Valentino Rossi only because he decided to leave the Italian marque.
Stoner, the 2007 MotoGP champion, spent four years at Ducati before leaving for Honda at the end of the 2010 season. He won 23 races with the Italian manufacturer. Rossi joined Ducati this year but has struggled with an uncompetitive bike so far.
Although Rossi's move to Ducati was rumored for several years, Stoner says it only became a reality because he decided to leave.
"Valentino arrived only because I did not renew. The decision was up to me. I left and they contacted him," Stoner told Gazzetta dello Sport. He claimed the staff he worked with were not happy with his decision to leave.
"Not the staff, but someone at the top, maybe some sponsors, too, yes. They thought Valentino would bring great results."
The Australian also said that his relationship with the Italian manufacturer had taken a turn for the worse after he was forced to miss several races because of illness in 2009.
"In the last couple of years, the relationship with the factory is not exactly warm," he said. "With the people on the track, with the test team, everything is perfect. Let's say that there are some problems with the top management. When I had my [health] problems, I understood that it wasn't really a family like I had previously thought. I had problems and they didn't help me. Instead, the people behind the bike are really special."
He added: "I'm very grateful for the opportunity they gave me, but I expected a bit of gratefulness from them for my efforts. The first two years I was with the company, while in the other two I was only with Filippo [Preziosi] and with his guys.
"I had planned to end my career there, but when I understood that staying there was not my dream, I tried to realize what really was my dream – that is racing for Honda."
Stoner admitted he is now more relaxed at Honda, where he reckons there is a bigger focus on the racing side.
"Very different. With Honda I'm more relaxed. In contrast with Ducati, the Japanese think more about racing than about appearances."