Ciabatti: “Bagnaia is world champion because he deserves to be”

Francesco Bagnaia was the best MotoGP rider in 2023, according to Ducati Sporting Director Paolo Ciabatti.
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Valencia 2023
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati MotoGP Valencia 2023

Bagnaia sealed his second consecutive MotoGP title during the season-finale at Valencia last weekend.

It also marked the second year in which he won the title during the final race of the season, showing that he can deal with the most pressurised situations which had at times been a question mark.

But there is no longer any doubt about Bagnaia’s ability to perform under pressure as he controlled the emotions of the occasion better than Jorge Martin. 

Speaking about Bagnaia and Ducati’s stunning success, Ciabatti told “It has been great, a season to remember. The numbers are impressive - 17 out of 20 GPs won. 

“Three riders in the first three positions in a championship which went down to the wire. It’s difficult to repeat a season like this. We are already working for 2024.

“We shouldn’t forget what happened in Barcelona. We were just starting the last part of the championship. 

“He had a freak accident - he had pole position and was leading. It could have had much more serious consequences. No fractures, but it was a scary one. 

“He had wounds on his body and, when he came back on crutches to Misano, we had a totally different plan. 

“Misano is a track where, usually, Pecco can make a difference. In India and Japan he was not at 100%. 

“He was leading comfortably and, I don’t want to take anything from the fantastic season that Jorge did, because from that point he was almost unbeatable in the sprint races and was fighting hard. Pecco is world champion because he deserves to be world champion.”

Over the course of the season Bagnaia did have difficult moments, particularly when it came to setting a fast lap time over one lap.

Needing to go through Q1 on several occasions, Bagnaia managed to overcome those issues when it mattered most. 

Ciabatti also discussed the difficult weekends for Bagnaia but said he ability to find his best made him a deserving champion.

“For sure, being champion gives you excellent self-confidence,” said the Italian. “We had tricky weekends, we were struggling on Fridays, we weren’t setting up the bike to his wishes. 

“Let’s not forget he was second when he crashed in India, this was a setback. Pecco likes to work with his team, they have a strict relationship. 

“They came on Sundays with a setup which allows Pecco to fight. He was the only rider to fight for the podium in every grand prix.

Martin ‘an incredibly talented rider’


Bagnaia’s title rival for the entire 2023 campaign, Martin came very close to becoming the first-ever non factory rider to win a premier class title.

Although he came out second best to Bagnaia, Martin would have been a very deserving champion. 

Speaking about the Spaniard’s journey, Ciabatti said: “We decided to sign him in 2020. We knew Jorge was an incredibly talented rider. Let’s not forget the crash he had in Portimao and the consequences.

“Last year we had to configure the bike. The factory riders, Pecco and Jack, decided to go with a hybrid version with the latest 2021 engine. 

“So the 2022 bike with the new engine was more complicated to set up and adjust. We must say the results of Jorge last year were probably influenced by this situation.

The factory and Pramac riders are contracted to Ducati, so this season Pecco and Jorge got exactly the same specs and exactly the same updates. 

“The wings, when we brought them to Austria for Pecco and Jorge, it was because they were the best-placed. Ducati has done a remarkable job.
“Everybody in the paddock knows Pecco and Jorge treated equally on the technical side.”

Read More