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Opinion

The cases Marquez and Martin are making for a Ducati MotoGP ride

Ducati is committed to deciding around the Italian Grand Prix who will be Francesco Bagnaia's team-mate in the factory team from next year, with both Marc Marquez and Jorge Martin confident that their strengths will help them end up wearing red...

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing, Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Let's be upfront about it and admit that the story is slightly altered. While it is true that the first part of the equation must be cleared up by Ducati, the problem will not be completely solved until the chosen rider signs the contract.

Of the three who started the race for that second factory Ducati, Enea Bastianini has been left behind, a circumstance that places Martin and Marquez in the two corners of the ring. The results slightly favour the former, who, in turn, cannot compete with the latter in terms of impact and media coverage. Apart from these two concepts, it is very difficult to assess which of the two is more competitive because the circumstances surrounding them are too far apart at all levels.

Martin has built his lead in the standings on speed and consistency, the two most desirable elements for any title contender. In the six rounds on the calendar so far, the Pramac rider has two wins (Portimao and Le Mans), and a total of four podiums, combined with three more victories (Qatar, Jerez and Le Mans), and two podiums (Portimao and Austin) in those two sprint races. A huge success considering the level of competition on the grid at the moment, with an efficiency rate of 70%.

Read also: Ducati won't make 2025 factory MotoGP seat decision at Mugello

Of the 222 total points that have been up for grabs so far, the Spaniard has been able to take 155, a figure that implies an average of 26 points per grand prix, out of a possible 37. The average for Bagnaia, who is second in the standings with 39 fewer points, is 19 points per event, practically the same as Marquez, who has only two fewer points than the reigning champion.

This picture should put Martin in pole position to join the Ducati team in 2025. However, the Bologna-based brand cannot overlook Marquez's impressive performances in the last few races. In such a decisive stage, the #93 rider has pulled two comebacks out of his sleeve that prove that, on one of the Italian manufacturer's bikes, he is very close to his best version.

Only with outstanding riding would one be able to come from 13th and 14th positions, at Le Mans and Barcelona respectively, to finish on the podium in a frenzy. Martin has been riding a Ducati for four years, compared to six grands prix for Marquez, who also has a bike which, on paper, offers a lower performance than his opponent.

Marquez's opulence in all its dimensions, both on and off the track, is his best asset to convince the bosses of the Bologna-based company. Gigi [Dall'Igna] is very keen to know what Marc is capable of doing with the latest generation Ducati, agrees several voices from the red team's garage.

Martin leads Bagnaia at the Catalan GP

Martin leads Bagnaia at the Catalan GP

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

In the same garage, there is the certainty that a Marquez victory at Mugello this weekend would complicate in a rather decisive way Martin's continuity at Ducati, given that he himself has made it clear that he only contemplates staying with the Borgo Panigale company if it is in factory overalls. An understandable scenario if we take into account that the marque already preferred Bastianini over Martin the last time it had to choose.

His departure would be even more logical considering that the announcement would be made with him as the championship leader, given the 39-point cushion he has at the top of the championship. With that statement from Martin in mind, the key is to know what is of most value to Ducati, and what it is willing to lose.

On the assumption that Ducati's intention is to retain both Spaniards, there seems to be only one formula that would allow it. That would be to place Martin in the factory team and persuade Marquez to join one of the satellite squads with, of course, the latest evolution of the Desmosedici.

"Bagnaia's next team-mate may not so much be the rider of choice, but the one who is most willing to give up the most to get the job."

At Barcelona last weekend, the two protagonists who have the rider market stuck again showcased their strategies. Martin, for his part, made it clear that next year he will race "with a factory team". Autosport understands that the Pramac rider has an offer from Pierer Mobility (KTM) on the table, and has given Ducati until Mugello to convince him. If he does not get an answer in the next few days, or if the proposal he receives does not satisfy him, he will actively negotiate with the Austrian group.

Marquez, for his part, insisted that he has a plan in his head that is working out the way he wants it to. The six-time MotoGP world champion is much more subtle than his opponent and prefers not to close any doors. Like Martin, KTM is also ready to recruit him should he opt to leave Ducati.

Marquez wants to return to a factory team because it ensures he will have the resources and equipment required to challenge for the title. That is not to say, however, that he is not contemplating the possibility of accepting to race with a satellite team should Ducati opt to pick his compatriot.

What seems clear is that, with the lion's share of the budget earmarked for riders' salaries already allocated to Bagnaia, his next team-mate may not so much be the rider of choice, but the one who is most willing to give up the most to get the job.

Marquez on his way to another podium recovery

Marquez on his way to another podium recovery

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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