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'He's the future' - What we learned about Ducati's rider plans

by Simon Patterson, Valentin Khorounzhiy
7 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

With the news that Fermin Aldeguer will become a factory-contracted Ducati rider in MotoGP next season now made official ahead of this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix after months of speculation, it means that another piece has fallen into place in the puzzle that is next season’s grid.

But while it might not exactly have come as a huge surprise given the hints that both Ducati's and Aldeguer’s camps have been dropping in the build-up to the announcement, it does help us get a little bit of a better understanding of the Italian factory’s intentions for the future - and gives us an idea of who might be under increasing pressure to find a seat outside of the Bologna marque.

Aldeguer deal isn't that new

Fermin Aldeguer, Speed Up, Moto2

Perhaps the biggest revelation is that the Aldeguer deal has in reality been agreed long before the MotoGP season even started - with the teenager himself admitting that he'd signed as early as two months ago. 

That’s not exactly a surprise, given Ducati’s level of interest in him, but it shows that while it might have been ultra keen to secure his signature, he was equally willing to jump at what was offered.

Beyond that, though, he was somewhat subdued at being thrust very much into the media spotlight as he was sat next to childhood rival Pedro Acosta and MotoGP legend Marc Marquez at Thursday’s press conference, a reflection perhaps of a junior career that has flown - save for an exception or two - relatively under the radar right up until his incredible run of form in the final races of last Moto2 season.

MotoGP press conference, Portuguese GP

Signing with Ducati is a smart move on his behalf, especially going into what could well be a very unpredictable 2024 Moto2 campaign thanks to the switch to Pirelli tyres. 

We’ve already seen Aldeguer struggle in the opening race of this season in Qatar - puzzled by drastic front tyre fall-off that he says he hadn't encountered at any point in testing or earlier in the weekend - but, with his future secured for the long term, it means that the pressure of finding a ride is off and he can concentrate on honing his craft in the dark ark of tyre management in the coming months.

Ducati is all-in 

Gigi Dall'Igna, Ducati, MotoGP

It’s not exactly been a secret that Ducati’s head of racing Gigi Dall’Igna has had his sights locked on Aldeguer for quite some time now, but we got an idea at Portimao of just how important it was to him to secure Aldeguer's signature.

Ducati's new sporting director Mauro Grassilli admitted to MotoGP.com that getting an Aldeguer deal over the line was made practically his first priority when he took over his job from Paolo Ciabatti.

Ducati, MotoGP

"The first moment I took this place,” Grasilli (stood behind Dall'Igna in the photo above) told the series’ cameras, “I spoke with Gigi and he said 'the future for us will be Fermin, so try all the best to have him inside the Ducati family'."

That’s also evidenced, of course, by the healthy length of Aldeguer’s new contract - with two years already confirmed and an easy option to extend it for two more baked in from day one. 

That all hints at serious plans for him from the Italian factory even as it continues to dominate the series with its existing MotoGP talent pool.

Pramac-Ducati not set in stone for 2025

Franco Morbidelli and Jorge Martin, Pramac Ducati, MotoGP

One question about Aldeguer’s new deal that was answered in Portimao was why he was confirmed as a Ducati rider but not at any team in particular.

This, as expected, seems to be directly tied in with speculation about Ducati's top-tier satellite team Pramac not yet being confirmed to remain with the Italian marque amid interest from Yamaha.

“Pramac has an option,” Grassilli told MotoGP.com. “If Pramac picks up that option Fermin is there for the next two years.”

And while attention might be on riders signing deals right now, it’s likely that inside Ducati getting the Pramac deal across the line is probably the next big priority.

Martin’s negotiations are no further along

Jorge Martin, Pramac Ducati, MotoGP

Up until now, 2023 title contender Jorge Martin has been adamant that, with a factory seat on the line alongside reigning world champion Pecco Bagnaia for next year, he’s in no hurry to make any moves just yet.

That hasn’t changed with the news of his close friend Aldeguer’s MotoGP deal either - even though Aldeguer is set to take a seat at Martin's current team.

In a way, that is irrelevant to Martin, who has been - and continues to be - open in his desire and intention to wear factory Ducati red in 2025 (or factory colours elsewhere, rather than continue in satellite rider status).

A sprint winner and grand prix podium finisher in Qatar last time out, he was adamant that he isn't yet making moves for 2025 when asked by The Race whether he needed Ducati to commit to him by a certain point in time.

"I think it's not the moment to speak about my future,” he insisted. “I have plenty of time- I already demonstrated but I have plenty of time to demonstrate this year. I guess my manager is working on it."

Marquez is staying out of the factory seat fight - for now

Marc Marquez and Enea Bastianini, MotoGP

There’s been lots of talk recently suggesting that rather than promoting one of its homegrown stars into factory colours for 2025, Ducati might instead try something bold and sign up six-time MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez, considering that he’s already getting an opportunity to learn its bike at satellite squad Gresini this year.

While that might be an attractive opportunity for him at some point in the coming months, he was very cagey when asked about it directly at Portimao - publicly keeping out of the factory seat dogfight.

“Of course my situation is completely different than in the past,” he admitted. “In the past, in December I already had the contract signed for next year [the year after the next]... and yeah, right now, I don't have to rush. 

“I just want to concentrate on myself, just try to do my best on the racetrack. And I know that if I enjoy it and I'm faster, I will have more possibilities to choose a seat. But... until now I don't want to speak, I just want to concentrate on myself. 

“I know that in sport the present counts, not the past. The present is like this, and I need to work because there are two-three-four riders faster than me.”

He then gave that was effectively another no-comment when asked about the idea of staying at Gresini beyond 2024, reiterating that his on-track performance was key to maximising the number and quality of available options.

What about the other Marquez?

Alex Marquez, Gresini Ducati, MotoGP

Any further answers as to who will take up the available Desmosedicis in 2025 remain shrouded in mystery - also because, as indicated above, there is no certainly yet over how many Ducatis will actually on next year's grid.

With Pramac yet to commit and VR46 likewise yet to sign a deal, the shape of Ducati's roster depends on whether Yamaha in particular succeeds in luring either of the two teams away to be its satellite partner.

One team there is relative certainty over is Gresini, and while one of the Marquez brothers it employs is keeping his cards very close to his chest, the other has been very open about his designs for 2025.

"I'm quite happy where I am. If I need to say something, I would say - official [factory-spec] bike at Gresini, this would be my perfect thing," said Alex Marquez.

"It will be really open for everybody. I need to make my job on track to have good options off-track."

Alex Marquez, Gresini Ducati, MotoGP

A factory-spec Ducati seems a long shot for the younger Marquez. Ducati showed last year an unwillingness to run more than four factory-spec entries (after what it perceived as a failed experiment with five GP22s in 2022).

So in addition to seeing off opposition for a coveted works Ducati, Marquez would also likely need for Ducati to elect against giving Aldeguer works-spec machinery for his rookie season - a prospect that Aldeguer acknowledged, speaking to MotoGP.com, but one Ducati itself hasn't commented on.

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