Jorge Lorenzo believes MotoGP rival Valentino Rossi had a "more complicated" bike in his time at Ducati and would have fared better on the current GP18.
Lorenzo emulated Rossi's 2011 move by switching from Yamaha to Ducati for '17, and it looked set to be a similarly ill-fated affair as he struggled to get to grips with the Desmosedici bike.
But while Rossi ended his two-year Ducati stint winless, Lorenzo has pulled off a remarkable turnaround and won the two grands prix since he and Ducati decided to part for 2019.
Asked if he thought he could have won on the 2018 Ducati, Rossi replied: "I don't know, it's a difficult question. I think nobody know and we will never know. The question will remain open."
But Lorenzo was adamant Rossi was in a tougher situation during his time at Ducati.
"I think Vale's Ducati was more complicated. From the outside I believe that," he said.
"Now for me it's the more complete Ducati ever."
In answer to the question of whether Rossi would have won on the GP18, Lorenzo replied "Vale is a great rider, so why not?" then joked "sorry, great rider, no - a champion" in reference to the comments made by Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali that had displeased him last month.
Lorenzo's praise for Rossi is the latest in a string of recent comments and conversations that have suggested a more cordial relationship between the former team-mates, who famously feuded during their stints together at Yamaha.
Asked whether he and Rossi were friends now that they no longer shared the Yamaha garage, Lorenzo said: "I don't think we are friends, even if I think outside of the track we will have fun because we like to have fun outside the grand prix.
"It is difficult to be friends with a rival. A rival, two strong characters, two riders that want to win.
"But you know, the most important thing is to have respect, and I have huge respect for Vale, and I think he has the same to me.
"We are great champions, we are some of the best in history."
Rossi offered a similar sentiment: "We had difficult times, but also good times. A little bit of up and down, one or two [conflicts] quite deep.
"But it's difficult when you fight for the same results and Jorge is also one of my strongest and toughest rivals in my career.
"We stayed a long time together in the same team, which means it was also more difficult. The important thing is the respect, for sure."