Bastianini’s promotion from Gresini Racing to the factory Ducati team is a notable change in the 2023 MotoGP rider line-up.

Francesco Bagnaia, who brought Ducati their first MotoGP title since 2007 and Italy their first champion since 2009, is making his maiden defence but, on the other side of the same garage, teammate Bastianini will be eyeing the top prize for himself.

"I'll be happy if I beat him" - Bastianini on Bagnaia rivalry | MotoGP 2023

"There is rivalry, but first and foremost friendship," Bastianini told La Repubblica. 

"We've known each other since we were kids, and for the first time we're on the same team. 

“I respect him, I will have a lot to learn. But he will be my first opponent. 

“Did they applaud me more in Bologna than him? Bagnaia also has many fans. I think many people like me because I want to excite people, to convey what I feel: without looking too much at the form. 

“In an era that doesn't allow you too much to be yourself, I try anyway. An old-school guy: instinctive, few calculations and a lot of passion. I would like MotoGP to return to certain battles: if it were for me, racing would only be hand-to-hand."

The past three seasons have seen Joan Mir, Fabio Quartararo and Bagnaia win their first championships and they will return to battle seeking to claim glory again, along with the likes of Bastianini who hopes that new machinery can boost him.

But Marc Marquez remains an ominous presence.

The six-time premier class champion must overcome his own injury-plagued past and the limitations of his Repsol Honda bike if he to sustain a challenge, but Bastianini expects him to do so.

"Just look at the numbers, Marc won more than anyone,” Bastianini said. 

“This year he will be the great protagonist, the favourite. I'm sure we'll see a champion in top form, and it will be a pleasure to challenge him."

Bastianini said about facing riders from the VR46 stable: "Beating his riders for me is the same as beating others, no more and no less. At the Ranch of Tavullia I went 5-6 times, the relations are good and they would have wanted me with the VR46: but I chose Gresini. Maybe it was a risk, it paid off."