A three-time WorldSBK race winner as a factory Ducati rider, Rinaldi will leave the team at the end of this season as soon-to-be WorldSSP champion Bulega will step up to replace him.

Rinaldi has often been the best factory rider behind the ‘titanic trio’ of Alvaro Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea since 2021, however, inconsistent performances has also been very prominent.

Rinaldi’s pace at times in 2023 has been on par with the top three in the championship, but the results don’t match the pace shown as he’s accumulated just six podiums.

Although it’s a very high benchmark, Rinaldi has also failed to get to grips with the performance shown by Bautista, with the series leader winning 19 races to Rinaldi’s zero. 

Granted, winning races was never Ducati’s requirement of Rinaldi given the talent of Bautista, but with the Italian only seventh in the standings and faltering on too many occasions, looking elsewhere for 2024 began to materialise fairly quickly this season.

Speaking to Speedweek, Rinaldi now feels as though the pressure is off after admitting he’s made too many errors.

"I’m enjoying the current situation and riding my Ducati. Every time I ride [the bike] it will be one less [race]. 

"The three years in the Ducati factory team were a very important phase in my life as an Italian. 

"That's why I try to collect as many impressions as possible and don't think about contracts. Maybe I should have approached it earlier, but I always wanted to show off my speed - and that's why I made mistakes. 

"Now I have nothing to lose and can therefore enjoy it. If I win another race, it would be great. 

"If I come second, that's okay too. It wasn't like that before. Because when you wear these colours, you have to perform."