MotoGP engine design is homologated (or frozen) for each rider at round one of each season.

While Marini joined Pramac riders Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco in registering the ‘full’ 2022 engine spec last year, handling problems in testing prompted factory team riders Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller to make a last-minute switch to a ‘hybrid’ powerplant fitted with 2021 parts.

There were thus two slightly different engine specifications for the GP22s, even before the normal flow of in-season factory upgrades.

MotoGP 2023 Sepang Test Special | Crash MotoGP Podcast 76

“It is very difficult for us to find a base, sometimes we go the way of Pecco or Jack but then we have another bike,” Martin said at Mugello in May. “We are a bit alone in that aspect. They [Ducati] are helping us – but having different specs of bike on the grid is not easy for them to understand each spec.”

“I have not tried [the engine spec homologated for Bagnaia and Miller],” Martin added. “But for sure the ‘22 [engine] we are using, I have not felt good since the first day and I’m still struggling with it… I feel like we have a big issue with the rear grip.”

The factory team took their bikes to eight wins (seven for Bagnaia, one for Miller) and the riders’ title for Bagnaia, while the satellite GP22 riders went on to celebrate eight podiums (four each for Zarco and Martin) for eighth, ninth and twelfth in the standings.

On paper, Marini is now the only Ducati rider keeping the same machine as last year - the factory and Pramac teams getting new GP23s, while VR46 team-mate Marco Bezzecchi and Gresini step up to GP22s from GP21s.

However, Marini - fastest in both winter tests, at Valencia and Sepang - confirmed that he is now running the GP22-spec used by Bagnaia and Miller.

“Compared to the beginning of last season, it is a completely different bike. Now it is a very good bike, but also this spec that I have now is a little bit different compared to [my spec] last year,” Marini said.

“Something changed and the changes are positive. I like it so much. I feel comfortable in every part and, sincerely, this bike doesn't have negative points in my opinion.”

“It’s a little bit different, inside the bike,” he added. “Riding is a little bit better, the electronic side is a little bit more updated, something like this. So the first touch of gas is much better and the engine brake works a little bit better, so you can brake a little bit later. All small changes, but positive.

“The DNA is the same but these little upgrades make a little bit of difference.”

Asked directly if he is basically using the bike spec that Bagnaia and Miller finished last season with, Marini replied: “Yeah, exactly.

“They changed something [compared to the satellite GP22s], they gave it to us and it’s good.”

The only downside to the upgrade is that Marini might find that some of his preferred settings from last season don’t transfer directly across at certain circuits in 2023.

While Bastianini proved that a year-old Ducati can win races and fight for the championship, Marini thinks outperforming the GP23s will be a much tougher task.

“I don't think so,” he said, when asked if the GP22 could be the stronger package in the early rounds, “also because speaking with the Ducati guys, the GP23 is not a revolution.

“They understand their mistakes [at the start of 2022] and they’ve tried to make another step, but a little step compared to last season's bike of Pecco.

“Also because it was a winning bike. So they don't need to change [a lot].”