Alvaro Bautista closing on deal to replace Scott Redding at Ducati WorldSBK?

Ducati is reportedly courting Alvaro Bautista for a return to its team for the 2022 WorldSBK Championship to replace Scott Redding

Scott Redding - Ducati, WorldSBK 2021

[UPDATE: BMW has confirmed Scott Redding will join its factory team for the 2022 WorldSBK Championship season - CLICK HERE - paving the way for Bautista to rejoin Ducati]

The 2022 WorldSBK Championship rider line-up could be set for a major shake-up amid growing speculation Ducati is parting ways with Scott Redding in favour of welcoming back Alvaro Bautista into its midst for next season.

Bautista, who competed with Ducati in his maiden WorldSBK season, appears on course for severing ties with Honda after only two seasons in favour of a return to the manufacturer with which he won 14 races en route to the runners-up spot in 2019.

2019 BSB Champion and ex-MotoGP rider Redding, meanwhile, is understood to be negotiating terms with BMW and Honda.

The motivation behind the shock switch, as reported by Speedweek and GPOne, is thought to be motivated almost entirely by Gigi Dall’Igna, who has been unconvinced of Redding’s results, despite him finishing runner-up in his first season in 2020 and hauling himself back into 2021 title contention with victory last time out in Most.

By contrast, Bautista has achieved just a single podium since joining the Honda project and parted ways with Ducati on acrimonious terms after letting slip a huge advantage in the standings to be soundly beaten by Jonathan Rea to the title despite his record-breaking victory run.

However, with Ducati’s competitiveness relative to Yamaha and Kawasaki wavering over the last few months, the Italian firm sees the lightweight Bautista as its best chance to take the fight to the likes of Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Is Scott Redding jumping or is he being pushed?

The 2021 WorldSBK season has been something of a mixed bag for Redding with bursts of strong form being punctuated by too many errors - both on track and tactical - even if he has comfortably had the measure of his new team-mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who is in the midst of a two-year deal.

There is a sense Redding is not wholly satisfied on the Ducati Panigale V4 R, finding it hard to get into the optimum operating window to showcase its strength of top end speed.

With this in mind, Redding might fare better with a new environment though he - like Bautista - could find the switch to inline-four machinery following his years as a MotoGP rider a tricky swap to make.

As for potential options, Honda would seem a natural bet but it would require him to pick up on a sizeable development project, one that has moved at a fairly snail’s pace with Bautista on the CBR1000RR-R but could enable Redding to knuckle down and show his potential in the way the Spaniard hasn’t.

Alternatively, BMW has been mentioned too and with Tom Sykes thought to be close to another contract extension alongside Michael van der Mark, it could see the team expand to three factory bikes in 2022.

If it transpires Redding is being pushed, it would be another harsh example of Ducati’s rather ruthless approach to rider management, something pointed out by the likes of Casey Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Chaz Davies in recent years.

Indeed, Davies was pushed out of the team after several years in favour of Ducati getting an Italian on board and Bautista’s appointment appears to be motivated mostly by the personal relationship he has with Dall’Igna.

More frustratingly for the Briton, another simpler reason has also been given for why Ducati would prefer Bautista… Redding is just too big for the bike.