Alvaro Bautista: ‘The only result is to win', pressure of #1 a 'motivation'

Alvaro Bautista knows that the pressure to win will now be ramped up after choosing the #1 over his traditional number of 19 for his WorldSBK title defence.
Alvaro Bautista, Ducati WorldSBK 2023
Alvaro Bautista, Ducati WorldSBK 2023

After winning the 2022 WorldSBK championship, his first in the series and Ducati’s first since 2011, Bautista has now followed the same path as main rivals Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu, who both used the number after winning their maiden title.

Still keeping his beloved #19 close to his chest, Bautista has elected to integrate the number 19 into his #1.

A 16-time race winner in 2022, Bautista put together one of the best campaigns ever by a WorldSBK rider, scoring the second most points in a single-season with 601 - Rea holds the record for highest points tally ever with 663 in 2019. 

Speaking at the Ducati Team’s official bike launch which took place alongside the Lenovo Ducati MotoGP Team, Bautista said: "I chose the #1 for 2023 because it’s like a personal challenge. When you have the #1 on the bike, the only result is to win. 

"It’s a good motivation. I feel quite strong to defend the #1 on the bike and, in the end, my baby and I arrived at the same decision. We chose the #1 for this season. 

"I’m so proud to have this number on my bike. It’s amazing to be here at the Ducati presentation because we shared it with the MotoGP team, so it’s very special. It means that it’s very important for Ducati so I’m very proud to be here today."

Ducati WorldSBK 2023
Ducati WorldSBK 2023

Bautista, who will be riding the brand new 2023 Panigale V4 R for the first time on Wednesday, will do so alongside team-mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who admits fighting for the title is his only goal in 2023. 

Perhaps an unrealistic objective given the Italian failed to win a race last season, however, Rinaldi has shown huge amounts of potential in the past.

"The level of the championship has become incredible. Many records were broken last year," said Rinaldi. 

"I lack a bit of speed in all races. Alvaro, Toprak and Jonny are very tough opponents but that doesn't mean my goal changes. I want to play for the World Championship with Alvaro and I'm working hard for this result. 

"I hope that the team fights for the title with two riders and then we'll see who wins in the last few races ."

Rinaldi was under intense pressure from Axel Bassani when it came to remaining with Ducati last season, but if the 27 year-old can get on level terms with Bautista this year, then such pressure is unlikely to be as high ahead of trying to negotiate another deal. 

With a new Panigale at his disposal that could again be the best bike on the grid, and the rider to beat in the same garage, Rinaldi is not backing down from the challenge, instead he’s calling such circumstances ‘a positive pressure’. 

Rinaldi added: "It's a positive pressure, it's a push. When you start the season you know you have a competitive bike and next to it there's also the one with the number 1, it gives you energy. 

"There is a way to win, everything is in my hands. Being on this bike is the dream of many riders. Let's give it some gas and then see what happens."

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