Casey Stoner believes his team-mate Nicky Hayden will get up to speed on the Ducati as soon as he regains confidence after recent crashes.
Like all Stoner's previous Ducati teammates, Hayden is currently struggling for pace and has been significantly slower than his fellow former world champion. But Hayden had started to show better form in testing only to lose momentum following a massive crash in qualifying at Losail, and then a subsequent first lap tangle with Yuki Takahashi in Japan.
Although Hayden could only finish 15th, 50 seconds behind third-placed Stoner, in last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, the Australian is confident his team-mate has the potential to get to grips with the Ducati GP9 once he gets over the accidents.
"He's struggled with confidence of late," said Stoner. "These last two races have been a disaster for him, and not really his fault. He made the mistake in Qatar and crashed. For sure that's a big blow to your confidence – and then of course Takahashi took him out. There are maybe just a few things he needs to get over."
Stoner thinks that without the accidents, Hayden would be much closer to his times.
"We've seen him be very competitive up in the top five (in testing) and getting more comfortable on the bike, and then those things hit, and that put a backwards step in his stride, "he said. "Hopefully we can see him start to bounce back."
Stoner's 2007 Ducati teammate Loris Capirossi began the year a long way adrift but eventually acclimatised to the bike and was able to win in Japan and rise to seventh in the championship.
Capirossi then left for Suzuki, and his replacement Marco Melandri fared even worse alongside Stoner. The Italian only finished in the top ten three times all year, was a lowly 17th in the final championship standings, and agreed an early end to his multi-year deal.