Joined by former title rival Rossi at Ducati for 2011, Hayden had something to prove against his high-profile team-mate and did a fine job of keeping him honest. A podium finish at a slippery Jerez during round two laid down a marker, Hayden going toe-to-toe with Rossi aboard the troublesome GP11 and, despite the greater attention being paid to his team-mate, finishing just seven points behind the Italian at the end of the year.

With the media frenzy surrounding Rossi - particularly his struggles on the Ducati - continuing into 2012, Hayden maintained his relatively low-profile to post consistent, if unspectacular, results. A high-speed crash in qualifying at Indianapolis would break a run of points' finishes, before a nasty-looking fall at Aragon (in which he was sent over the barriers) hampered him further.

In the end, Hayden would end the season ninth overall, but without a podium to his name for the first time in MotoGP. However, with Rossi jumping ship to Yamaha, Nicky was retained for a fifth season on the Ducati, this time alongside the man that replaced him at Honda, Andrea Dovizioso.

With the Honda and Yamaha riders often out of reach, Hayden's final season with Ducati mostly revolved around a season-long duel with Dovizioso. Evenly matched with the Italian, Hayden would battle hard - highlighted by a last corner clash at Indianapolis - but the limitations of the GP13 saw Hayden often occupy the lower end of the full prototype machines, with a best finish of fifth coming in the wet at Le Mans.

Frustrated not to try the latest GP13 modifications for the closing rounds, Hayden lost out to Dovizioso by 14 points in the final standings.