Ducati jokes it hired Alex Marquez to impress Marc Marquez… but it has a point

Davide Tardozzi admits there is a happy coincidence in Marc Marquez learning more about the Ducati MotoGP package via new Gresini signing Alex Marquez

Alex Marquez, Marc Marquez - Honda

While it remains anyone’s guess as to which rider will land the coveted second factory Ducati seat alongside Pecco Bagnaia for the 2023 MotoGP World Championship, one seat that is confirmed among the manufacturer’s Armada of eight bikes has been generating a fair amount of buzz.

Last month, Gresini Racing became the first of Ducati’s four teams to confirm its full rider line-up for the 2023 MotoGP season with the signing of Alex Marquez alongside Fabio di Giannantonio.

It’s a deal that - on paper at least - perhaps raises a few eyebrows. For a start, Marquez’s three seasons in MotoGP to date haven’t exactly sparkled, perpetuating - perhaps unfairly - a notion that the family name has flattered more than his potential in the premier class.

With some mighty shoes to fill in replacing three-time race winner Enea Bastianini, Alex Marquez arrives at Gresini boasting a fairly modest repertoire by comparison. Indeed, while he has collected two podiums - back-to-back at Le Mans and Aragon during his rookie campaign in 2020 - Marquez has otherwise cracked the top five on just one other occasion.

Despite this, Tardozzi suggests Ducati (via Gresini) is prepared to take a leap of faith with Marquez on the understanding his form has been stunted by the notoriously tricky Honda RC213V package he’s raced in all three of his MotoGP campaigns.

“I believe that Gresini is an excellent team that helps the rider more than 100% and not everyone succeeds,” he told GPOne.com. “I believe that Alex, after three years of MotoGP, has never given his best.

On a lighter note, however, Tardozzi jokes that signing Alex represents a chance to impress his six-time MotoGP title-winning brother Marc.

Indeed, while the older of the Marquez brothers has never outwardly indicated a desire to leave his familiar Honda surroundings for Ducati, it is known the Italian manufacturer does check-in now and again in case he’s had a change of heart.

While Tardozzi stresses Alex has been hired for his talent alone, he admits there could be some benefit for Ducati if he begins feeding back to Marc as to the strengths of the Ducati package relative to the Honda.

“For us it is a good advert for - joking of course - his brother,” he continues. “In my opinion, Alex will report to his brother the difference between Ducati and Honda.

“Let’s see what he will tell him, it will be a nice surprise. But I have reasonable certainty that Alex will go a lot better and will say good things about our bike.

“We have our riders and we believe in them. I have said it before and I emphasise it, we often joke with Marc. He is Honda, we are Ducati but there is an excellent relationship with Marc as a man. 

“When Alex tries the bike and when, I believe and hope, he will achieve certain results, it will be my duty to go to Marc and ask him ‘how’s it going?’.

“It’s a joke! Then again…”

We’ll say this right away… it’s hard to believe Ducati has hired Alex Marquez as a convoluted way of one day securing the signature of Marc Marquez. At least, we hope not!

But, as Tardozzi says, it won’t have escaped notice that Ducati will get something of a ‘2 for 1’ by signing Alex, knowing there will be the likelihood Marc will gain a greater understanding of the Ducati’s inner workings by association.

So while it’d be extreme to suggest this is a premeditated tactic by Ducati, we’ll say it isn’t quite a coincidence either.

Of course, putting Alex - with his taller frame and less active riding style - on the Ducati does in no way reflect how Marc would fare on the same machine.

But, assuming Alex won’t swear himself to secrecy now he’s reverting from Marc’s team-mate to his rival, the notion of the 62-time MotoGP race winner getting to know the intricacies of the Ducati a little better represents an interesting scenario.

Of course, a Ducati in the hands of Andrea Dovizioso represented Marquez’s staunchest rival during his three most recent title wins, even if his dominance en route to them meant it wasn’t an evenly-weighted rivalry.

Nevertheless, it was only Ducati with its aggressive power-orientated development direction that could take the fight to Marquez at his peak, raising the occasional hypothetical that pondered how he’d fare swapping his Honda for a Desmo.

A lot has changed since 2019, of course, not least Marquez’s catalogue of physical ailments and subsequent dip in performance, while it is far from guaranteed the Spaniard - currently taking a long time out to recovery from a fourth surgery on his troublesome arm - will ever be able to get back to the devastating form that had him on course to surge past every MotoGP record.

Nevertheless, the Ducati package has never been a stronger all-rounder than it has been for the last two seasons, a stark contrast to the decline in form for the once-metronomically formidable Honda.

Come the end of 2024 when Marquez’s long-term deal with Honda is up for negotiation, with that bit of Ducati intel being passed across the dinner table now and again, it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think Marc might consider an alternative future beyond Honda.

Go on, admit it, you can see Marquez in red…