Serene and relaxed, but above all aware of how much he is worth. Alvaro Bautista arrives at the starting blocks of this year’s world championship in the best possible position astride his Panigale V4. The reigning production-based world champion wanted to dedicate this long interview to us on the eve of the start of the Championship at Phillip Island.
We tackled various topics, obviously starting from the world championship challenge that awaits him.
“I'm starting with a lot of serenity and awareness – began Bautista – certainly winning the title last year made me feel better, even if no one had asked me to win the World Championship at any cost. Now we're back here, ready to do well and try to give our best in every situation. In the end, I'm just the tip, but behind me there is a work group that supports me in the best way and to which I am grateful”.
A couple of months ago, speaking to Giulio Nava during a live broadcast, he told us that you could continue for another three years.
"To tell the truth, I don't know. I could have stopped four years ago after MotoGP, but instead I continued. As I said, I don't know how many years I'll still be racing, and I don't even think about it that much. I certainly trained a lot during the winter for this Championship, and I feel more confidence than in 2022. Despite being 38 years old, I feel young and still hungry".
Do you have a deadline with Aruba?
“I certainly won't wait for the end of the season to communicate my decision (smiles). Last year I decided to continue after the second race and now it will be the same thing, like two or three races. Certainly, before the summer I will have made my decision whether to continue or not, that's for sure. I'm in no hurry, when I have clear ideas, I will make my choice and then I will communicate it to all of you".
Alvaro, let's talk about the track. Don't you think your victories are often underestimated?
“I know what I'm worth, I know my competitiveness and I know that I'm worth more than my weight. The most important thing is to have won the title, doing my best. I'm good because I win, and I don't care what people think about it. Those who race and are in the paddock know well what lies behind a success. Then, if someone thinks I win because it’s taken for granted, I can't do anything about that."
How much of Dall'Igna is there in this World Championship?
“In the end this is his Panigale. I've always been competitive with all of Gigi's bikes, and I've had a fantastic relationship with him for a long time. Personally, I consider him a great engineer and his greatest quality is that he doesn't just see the numbers, since he also combines the comments from the riders. He knows how to interpret what we riders say, without just following arithmetic and numbers. I consider this to be his true value."
But didn’t you say no to him at the time of Aprilia?
“Exactly (smiles)! He wanted me to race with Aprilia, because I would have won with the RSV4, instead I preferred to stay in MotoGP. In the end, however, we still found each other."
Do you think this Panigale is perfect?
“The perfect bike does not exist. However, this is the best Ducati ever".
When did you decide to return to Ducati?
"After the first Aragon test in 2021. I told Battistella to talk to Serafino and Cecconi, then the race in Holland was the key moment for my return".
During the winter there was a lot of talk about ballast at Ducati. Then in the end nothing happened.
“Superbikes are the heaviest bikes of all, given that a MotoGP bike weighs 10kg less. Then we must then take into account some factors, first of all safety, because the risk increases and it would be necessary to make the run-off areas bigger. The thing I didn't understand about this whole affair is why they only wanted to ballast me. It would have been an action aimed only at me, which I consider unfair and not true for everyone. Can I say one thing though?
“Why when I was in Honda nobody ever asked to ballast me? The CBR had the highest top speed of any Superbike, but in that case my weight was fine. Let's go further."
Alvaro, on-the-spot question: how do you see yourself doing a MotoGP race? Let's take Barcelona for example.
“Good question (smiles). It would be tough, not so much for the bike, but more for the tyres, because by now I'm used to the Pirellis, and I haven't used the Michelins for some time. In my opinion, the GP23 is a fun bike, but I don't know what to aspire to in terms of results".
Would you sign to make just one point?
"No! Not that! (smiles)"
Your rivals for the title fight are Rea and Toprak. What do you think about them?
“They are very strong and will be there throughout the championship. Probably last year they didn't think I could fight for the title, but now they know what my potential is".
If you had to choose one rider, apart from Rinaldi, who could be the heir to this Ducati?
“I was talking about it the other evening with Serafino. Among the riders currently on the grid, I don't know, given that the Panigale is a bike that you must push hard, making it slide with the rear. Certainly, all the MotoGP riders could ride it in line with their style. However, Marquez would go well on it and also Pedrosa".