The reigning MotoGP champion starts the new season as the clear-cut favourite for the title, however, his new teammate is expected to be one of his main challengers. 

While both riders have claimed that their relationship is a strong one, the on-track battles between the pair last season seemed to suggest that tension was beginning to simmer. 

Team orders, despite being in different teams, were a rarity, with only Sepang being the one occasion where Bastianini was asked to stay behind his fellow Italian.

However, it was an order that Bastianini chose to ignore as the two battled it out until the final lap before Bagnaia ultimately won.

Now teammates, Bagnaia has stated that both riders are free to fight one-another but that working together is a must.

"We are both smart enough to understand that if we work well in the box, our performance grows in the race," said Bagnaia during the opening pre-event press conference of the year. 

"I know Jack better as a teammate. But I’ve known Enea a long time, our relationship off-track is good. He’s never worked in the box with a teammate. In the race, we are free to do what we want."

After overturning a 91-point deficit to become Ducati’s first MotoGP champion since Casey Stoner in 2007, Bagnaia has since become the first rider to use the #1 plate which he believes is an achievement that must be respected. 

Bagnaia added: "Just Marc and Vale have repeated the title. It is something I am working to do. Having #1 is something to respect. All the riders want to steal this number from my plate. If we work well, we can defend the title."

Bagnaia expects several MotoGP riders to challenge

In pre-season testing Bagnaia appeared to be limited for rivals. In fact, most of the riders able to come close to his pace, or on occasion match his speed were fellow Ducati riders.

But the Italian, who was sitting side-by-side with Fabio Quartararo and Marc Marquez, didn’t rule out the pair from making a run at the title. 

Bagnaia said: "I am really happy about preseason. One year ago we were in trouble, but this year it was better. We learned from our mistakes. The new bike is better.

"At the test we had time to improve our situation. It is clear we are in a better situation than the others. 

"I am sure Yamaha will make an incredible step, Marc will be in front, the Aprilias and Ducati with Enea - many contenders for the first race."

Enea Bastianini ready to do ‘something better’ than Bagnaia…

While beating Bagnaia in his first season at the factory team will be a tough task, Bastianini showed more than once in 2022 that he had what it takes to win against the current world champion.

Aware that more pressure is now on his shoulders to repeat that form, which included four wins, Bastianini is only focused on doing better.

"I am coming off a beautiful season," said the former Moto2 champion. "To do something better this year? More complicated. There are a lot of fast Ducati riders, as we saw in the test. 

"A lot of riders are coming to win the title. All the MotoGP riders are so fast. For the moment, I don’t know who the best rider is. 

"Maybe Pecco because #1 on the fairing means he is No1. I have to learn from him, at the start, to do something better."