Ducati is not concerned if Francesco Bagnaia and his new-for-2023 MotoGP team-mate Enea Bastianini are not “friends”.
After a somewhat protracted process, the Bologna manufacturer eventually gave the nod to Bastianini, rather than Jorge Martin, to replace Jack Miller at the factory team.
It sets up a potentially explosive dynamic, not just because of the daring on-track battles which the two engaged in even as Bagnaia was trying to win the championship.
‘Pecco' and Miller, team-mates from the time the former arrived in MotoGP at Pramac Racing in 2019 until the conclusion of the 2022 season, had a close relationship.
However, Bastianini speculated earlier this year that Bagnaia wanted the Queenslander as his team-mate to avoid “a problem”, and Miller himself would later hint there could be fireworks in the Ducati Lenovo Team garage next year.
Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti acknowledged as much following the Valencia Grand Prix, where #63 did indeed clinch the riders' championship title, but nevertheless played the rivalry down.
“We don't need the team-mates to be friends,” he said on British MotoGP broadcaster BT Sport.
“We need them to respect each other.
“Pecco won seven grands prix this year, Enea won four; they are number one and number two so [we] will be the strongest team.
“Managing two Italians in the team might be a challenge.
“There might be some spice for the championship.”
Three of Bastianini's four wins came in the first seven races of the season, when the GP21-spec Desmosedici he was riding out of Gresini Racing was arguably a better motorcycle than then then-unrefined GP22.
In fact, the factory team even made a late change to something of a hybrid between the 2021 and 2022 engines just before Round 1, when motors are locked in for the season for non-concession manufacturers.
Ducati will get a read on the GP23 when the post-season test takes place back at Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo from tonight (AEDT).
“Starting from Tuesday we will test the 2023 bike,” he noted.
“Hopefully it will be a step forwards for the competitiveness of the bike.
“We want to start next season in a better way.”