When Andrea Dovizioso called an end to contract negotiations with Ducati in August 2020, the Italian factory opted for youth over experience by picking Francesco Bagnaia to join Pramac team-mate Jack Miller in moving up to its official team for 2021.

Ducati's expectation was that Miller, entering his seventh MotoGP season and with ten podiums (one win) under his belt, would be their best bet for the world championship and that Bagnaia, starting his third MotoGP season and with only one podium, would have more of a learning year.

"When we decided to bring Jack and Pecco to the factory team, we did it after a second part of the 2020 season where Jack was super competitive and Pecco after crashing in Misano was struggling," said Ducati Corse sporting director Paolo Ciabatti. "So the idea was obviously to start with Jack as a contender for the championship, and for Pecco to be fighting for the top five positions, and to see him improving."

But it was Bagnaia who made the stronger start with two podiums from the opening three races before Miller hit form with back-to-back wins at Jerez and Le Mans.

"Pecco made a pole position in Qatar, he was fighting basically to win that race and did a fantastic second part of the season," Ciabatti said. "Jack won his first grand prix on a Ducati in Jerez, then again in Le Mans, but then he had a little bit of ups and downs."

At the midway stage of the season Bagnaia had been just nine points ahead of Miller, with both trailing Pramac Ducati's Johann Zarco, then Fabio Quartararo's closest title rival.

However, while Bagnaia upped his game with six more podiums including four wins during the second half to finish the season as title runner-up to Quartararo, Miller took just two more podiums (and Zarco none) for fourth in the standings.

"Nobody has doubts about Jack's talent," Ciabatti said. "He's one of the fastest riders in certain conditions, he's also probably the best or one of the best when it's wet or partly wet. But sometimes his riding style is not helping him to save the tyre for the second part of the race and I think this is one of the areas where we need to help him improve [for 2022]."

Meanwhile, Bagnaia's late title charge came too late to catch Quartararo, a fall from the lead at Misano officially ending the Italian's chances with two races remaining.

"There were a few races where I think we lost some key points that we could have kept the fight with Fabio open until the last round. I would say basically Mugello [fall from lead], the restart of Austria [tyre] and Silverstone [tyre]," Ciabatti said.

"I don’t think we lost the championship with the crash in Misano because it was 'all in', we needed to win. And I think Pecco was doing a fantastic race. I think also Marc had decided he would be happy with second. But obviously then Pecco made a small mistake and crashed and it was over.

"But we're satisfied. We think we have the riders to be able to be really trying to win the championship next year."

All six Ducati riders will continue on Desmosedicis in 2022, being joined by rookies Fabio di Giannantonio (Gresini) and Marco Bezzecchi (VR46).