Marquez is seeking his seventh championship in the premier class but must overcome the impact of his injury-ravaged history, and the limitations of a Repsol Honda bike which was below-par in 2022.

In the past three years Joan Mir, Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia have won their maiden titles representing three different teams. Bastianini, promoted to Ducati’s factory team in the 2023 MotoGP rider line-up, fancies himself as a contender this year.

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He said about Marquez to La Gazzetta dello Sport: "For many, many years he has been the reference, but now the level has been raised, there are more fast riders. 

"He will fight for the title, he will leave for that, but for him it will not be as easy as before.”

Marquez overcame the likes of Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo to claim his six MotoGP championships but now finds himself among the elder statesmen of the grid.

Bastianini and Bagnaia, two young and exciting Italians who will be in opposite sides of the same garage for Ducati this year, will come under the microscope.

Even with his promotion from Gresini guaranteed and with Bagnaia vying for the title, Bastianini showed a willingness to go wheel-to-wheel last year. He is unlikely to shirk a title fight against Bagnaia.

"At the moment we laugh about it,” he said about the interest in their personal relationship. 

“The rivalry will be there, but we are two very quiet people, I don't see any problems between us." 

Bastianini will have to adapt to the bigger and more pressurised environment in Ducati’s factory team.

"There will be many more people to relate to and I will have to learn in the best way. But it doesn't scare me,” he said.