MotoGP race winner Alex Rins admits he initially thought team boss Davide Brivio’s exit from Suzuki “was a joke” when the Italian told him of his decision.
Suzuki confirmed last week long-time team manager Brivio would be leaving the Japanese manufacturer having helmed the squad for the past eight years.
This came days after Autosport revealed Brivio would be quitting Suzuki to take on the role of CEO of the rebranded Alpine Formula 1 team in 2021 – though this is yet to be made official by the French manufacturer.
Brivio brought Rins to Suzuki in 2017, with the Spaniard winning three races since joining and aiding the marque to the teams’ title last season, as team-mate Joan Mir claimed the riders’ crown.
Speaking in an exclusive interview on Motorsport.com’s Spanish language MotoGP podcast, Rins revealed he found out about Brivio’s departure a day before the announcement and admits it took him by surprise.
“If I’m honest, I experienced the news all at once without barely knowing it,” Rins said of Brivio’s exit.
“He called me the day before it was announced. He told me he was leaving the team.
“At first I thought it was a joke, but it’s true and I was very surprised.
“He has done an incredible job for Suzuki and now a new adventure begins for him.”
Rins added: “We had and have a very good relationship. The truth is that I am super-grateful for everything he has done over the years and for giving me the opportunity in 2017 after a hard year [in Moto2] with many injuries, and that he continues to trust me.”
Autosport reported on Tuesday Suzuki will not seek out a replacement for Brivio in 2021, instead opting for an internal restructure to share around Brivio’s former responsibilities.
Brivio’s impact on Suzuki has been immense, but Rins doesn’t foresee his exit having a dramatic impact on the “harmony” of the team.
“What it may affect or not, I don’t know,” he said.
“But of course there will be a void, the one that Davide occupied. It will surely [have an] effect, but I think not negatively.
“The harmony with the team is incredible and that, in part, he has also achieved. It will change because that figure of Davide will not be there, but not much.”
On Tuesday MotoGP announced its Sepang pre-season test had been cancelled because of COVID-19, though the three-day Qatar test in March is still on at present.
Rins admits the news came as a shock, but doesn’t believe only having the Qatar test will disadvantage him that much given the 2020 GSX-RR will carry over to this season as part of COVID-19 cost-saving measures introduced last year.
“If you tell me that we have to start the year with a new engine, a new chassis, it would be more complicated,” said Rins.
“But starting the season with last year’s bike, I think three days of testing in Qatar is enough.
“At least for me; I don’t know if it will be as ideal for riders like Pol [Espargaro] or [Danilo] Petrucci, who have to get on a new bike.
“But in my case I think we have enough.”
Rins also revealed he did not undergo surgery in the off-season on the shoulder he injured at the Spanish Grand Prix in July, having floated the idea at the end of last season.