At Ducati, the fight to be Francesco Bagnaia’s team-mate looks to have been reduced to Bastianini vs Martin duel, but Johann Zarco feels he isn’t out of the picture.
Bastianini, a triple race winner this season for Gresini, has made clear he will remain with Ducati and get upgraded to the latest spec machine next season, but insists the team is still unknown:
“After the [summer] break probably, but now it's too early for me and also for Ducati to understand this,” Bastianini said on Thursday.
Martin, a race winner last season, also confirmed he expects to remain on a Desmosedici and is happy to stay at Pramac - but would also consider ‘other options’ if he doesn’t get the factory team seat.
“I think my future is in Ducati for next year,” he said.
“Just in case we don't go to the factory team, for sure I will look for other options [outside Ducati]. But I love Pramac, and it's one of the best teams also, and it won't be a problem for me to stay [again], obviously with a factory bike.”
Also set to stay in red (and probably with some Pramac purple) is team-mate Zarco.
The Frenchman may be the oldest of the Ducati riders, but he is now just three points behind the top Ducati of Bastianini in the world championship standings.
“For Ducati, I think we are well in line. And then it's this situation with Bastianini and Martin. I'm also there and I think Ducati have the choice and they do not rush to make the right choice,” Zarco said.
“Also because getting in a factory team is something quite big and [Ducati] is too big a company to just judge only [on results] they have also to take so many other things into [account].
“Me, with Pramac I’m pretty good. And it should continue, yes… [But] if I win the next two races because before the summer break, maybe then I will give a problem to the factory to say ‘ah, he’s another one [to consider]’!”
Zarco was also asked for his opinion on Miller’s KTM switch, having made an ill-fated move to the Austrian team, from Tech3, in 2019.
“Yeah, I had a tough experience [at KTM] three years ago. Then I've been so impressed by the change they did in 2020. They got a winning bike and last year also, in four races Oliveira took nearly 80 points.
“This up and down from KTM - like this year, they seem to be struggling much more than what they had last year, so it's kind of a special and maybe with Ducati, now we have many bikes, but we proved the Ducati can have a nice constancy.
“And Jack going there, it's a challenge. He already had, a close contact with them with his manager Aki Ajo and maybe he missed something here in Ducati.
“After many years with [Ducati], he tried to catch another challenge, and maybe Francesco Guidotti also convinced him because they had a very nice relationship in Pramac time so why not try something in KTM?
“The way he is riding, he has a natural feeling on the bike that he understands well where is the limit, so I think it be interesting that he tells KTM, his feedback. So I believe anyway he will adapt well. I think he will give them a different information than what they are used to.”
Miller will be riding alongside Brad Binder next season, with the South African welcoming the fellow double MotoGP race winner’s arrival.
“It's super cool to have Jack as a team-mate next year. He's a good friend of mine on the track and also off. We spend a lot of time together,” Binder said.
“I’m looking forward to getting it underway and for sure he brings knowledge from other manufacturers, so he can help guide us in a way to try and make that next step.”
“I mean, Miguel and I have both only ridden the KTM, so I suppose we don't really know what the different bikes are like at all,” he added.
“So for sure, I think it can give you some good direction, can tell us where our strong points are and where we need to work, and more than anything I think it can help our project.”
In terms of riding styles, “I think there are a couple of things that are quite similar between the way we ride, but there's also a couple of things that are quite different.
“I'll have a much better understanding of how things are exactly once we can go through each other’s data and all that kind of stuff.”
While the factory KTM team is now fixed for the next two years, the likes of current Tech3 riders and MotoGP rookies Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez still face an uncertain future.
“I don’t really know, I’m not really thinking about it to be honest, I’ve got my head down doing the best I can and it’s up to KTM,” said Gardner, who starts the German weekend eager to re-try a simple but potentially significant breakthrough found during the Catalunya test.
Fernandez took a similar view of 2023: “I don't know and I don't want to know. I am focused on trying to do my best. And try to enjoy myself. And this is the target now.
“Now is not the moment [to worry about 2023]. Maybe in the summer break we can do something. But first of all, KTM have to say something to us. [I have a] KTM option.”