Arguably more dominant in 2019, Bautista was undoubtedly a more complete rider last season as he managed to out-duel Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea, both of whom won world titles in the previous two seasons. 

Bautista showed a side to his riding that had been missing during his first three seasons, which was eliminating unforced errors. 

Instead, the Spanish rider was more consistent than any other rider on the grid, despite fighting at the front of the field in a year where the level in Superbike had never been higher. 

Calm under pressure, unflappable during battles with Razgatlioglu and Rea, Bautista believes 2022 was his best season to date.

Speaking exclusively to Crash.net about whether he felt like a more complete rider than ever before, Bautista said: "Could be! Sincerely, after many, many years at the highest level of motorcycling in MotoGP and here in WorldSBK, it’s not easy to have this motivation, to have this habit to win or to work and be a better rider. 

"To be strong enough to say I need to change this thing in my training to be a better rider. For me it has been one of my best seasons so far because I worked like never before. 

"I was more concentrated about areas that in the past maybe I didn’t care so much about. Especially on the mentality and the vision area. 

"I was working harder to improve in those areas. Physically I felt as strong as in my whole career, because fortunately on the physical side and physical training I was always quite well before. 

"But maybe I didn’t care about the other areas of the riding like flexibility, coordination, mentality, and so this time I worked in those areas and felt a big improvement. Last season I was a more complete rider than before." 

WorldSBK champion Bautista in his ‘best moment’, challenge is to ‘keep #1’ - Ducati

While Bautista feels he’s at the peak of his career, so does Ducati, who will be relying on the former MotoGP rider to bring them back-to-back titles for the first time since Neil Hodgson and James Toseland won the championship in 2003 and 2004. 

"Having the #1 back on a Ducati in WorldSBK, and also in MotoGP, is just a great feeling," said Ducati Corse Sporting Director, Paolo Ciabatti, when speaking at the team’s 2023 bike launch. 

"The challenge is to keep the #1 on the fairing for next year. We have a new model homologated for this season. It’s an evolution of the V4 R which has been very competitive. 

"On the other side, I think Alvaro is very confident and in full form. He knows very well that the usual suspects, Toprak and Jonny, will be his main rivals but we also have good expectations that Michael can make that little step. 

"Honestly, there is always some pressure especially if you are the reigning World Champion and you’re coming into the next season. I see Alvaro in a way that’s very self-confident, very relaxed. 

"I think he’s coming at a time in his career, he’s 38, but probably his best moment. He’s happy at home with the family and his daughters. 

"I think he’s in a very positive mode and he will, for sure, feel some pressure, but I don’t see him really worried about what is expected of him. He’s ready to fight again as he did in 2022 and keep #1 on the fairing for 2023."