Ducati CEO slams Alvaro Bautista, claims he did quit Ducati over money

Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali calls out his own rider Alvaro Bautista for saying he didn't quit over money, insisting he 'wanted more, nothing else'

Alvaro Bautista

Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali has launched a scathing attack on its World Superbike Championship rider Alvaro Bautista, claiming his impending switch to rivals Honda was purely because he wanted more money.

Bautista this week was confirmed to be leaving Ducati – with whom he has won 15 races – for a switch to the revamped Honda WorldSBK effort, which will see the official HRC operation come in to run the manufacturer’s entry.

Though Bautista has played down the suggestion he was motivated by a larger pay check for the move, Domenicali has called ‘Bau Bau’ out on this, saying Ducati offered a lucrative offer but was turned down because ‘he wanted more, nothing else’.

“This picture was the beginning of a fantastic row of wins,” he wrote. “Now Bau Bau says he left Ducati for Honda when we decided for Scott, and It was not for the money. But we made him an offer with 6 zero in two years and he refused, he wanted more, nothing else. Life is about choices.”

Bautista and Ducati’s relationship has taken a remarkable downturn since the start of the year when the ex-MotoGP rider romped to 11 straight wins aboard the new Ducati Panigale V4R in what appeared to be a dominant march towards the 2019 WorldSBK title.

However, a series of high-profile crashes – causing six non-scores in nine races – saw him slip well behind Jonathan Rea in the title battle. Ahead of this weekend’s French WorldSBK at Magny-Cours, Bautista is 91 points behind Rea, who can mathematically wrap up the title with two rounds in hand.

Bautista will be replaced by ex-MotoGP rider and British Superbike leader Scott Redding for the 2020 WorldSBK season.

Why is Domenicali speaking out over Alvaro Bautista?

No matter how you look at this, it’s rather unprecedented that the CEO of a major manufacturer is taking to social media to criticise its rider, not least because he is supposed to be in the midst of a title battle – not just his own, but Ducati’s too.

Domenicali appears to be referencing comments by Bautista made in Portugal in which he insisted he didn’t leave Ducati because he had a more financially lucrative offer from Honda, quoting ‘motivation’ instead. It’s a word he has used a lot since his Honda deal has been announced.

It probably hasn’t helped that Bautista has largely distanced himself from Ducati in recent months, with his sincerity and commitment called into question. Indeed, having declared publicly that he didn’t want to leave MotoGP for WorldSBK, Bautista claimed to have been won round and was enjoying being a ‘star’ at Ducati.

Two months later, amidst a run of dismal form that not only allowed Jonathan Rea back into the title fight, but the chance to romp away, Bautista stopped returning Ducati’s calls during the summer break as he prepared to call it quits. 

He was also called out on comments at Donington Park that suggested his series of accidents in the mid-stage of the season were down to a problem with the bike, only to refuse to go into any detail. He went on to suffer more falls in Laguna Seca a week later.

Either way, this is a relationship that has soured quickly and is likely to be very strained until the day it concludes.

As Domenicali intimates, what a difference a few months make… 

Magny-Cours, French WorldSBK Schedule

WorldSBK Pirelli French Round, Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours Event Schedule (Times local GMT+1)
Friday 27 September
9:00 - 9:30WorldSSP 300FP1 (Group A)
9:45 - 10:15WorldSSP 300FP1 (Group B)
10:30 - 11:20WorldSBKFP1
11:30 - 12:15WorldSSPFP1
13:30 - 14:00WorldSSP 300FP2 (Group A)
14:15 - 14:45WorldSSP 300FP2 (Group B)
15:00 - 15:50WorldSBKFP2 
16:00 - 16:45WorldSSPFP2
Saturday 28 September
09:00 - 9:20WorldSBKFP3
09:30 - 09:50WorldSSPFP3
10:00 - 10:15WorldSSP 300FP3 (Group A)
10:25 - 10:40WorldSSP 300FP3 (Group B)
11:00 - 11:25WorldSBKSuperpole
11:40 - 12:05WorldSSPSuperpole
12:20 - 12:40WorldSSP 300Superpole (Group A)
12:50 - 13:10WorldSSP 300Superpole (Group B)
14:00WorldSBKRACE 1
15:15WorldSSP 300Last Chance Race
Sunday 29 September
09:00 - 09:15WorldSBKWarm-up
09:25 - 09:40WorldSSPWarm-up
09:50 - 10:05WorldSSP 300Warm-up
14:00WorldSBKRACE 2
15:15WorldSSP 300RACE