Bagnaia Contract Extended To Two More Years With Ducati

Bagnaia Contract Extended To Two More Years With Ducati

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MotoGP

March 12th, 2024

Ducati's marketing director, Luigi Dall'Igna's right-hand man, Francesco Grassilli, has had a whirlwind start to his new role. After two decades within the Italian powerhouse's marketing department, Grassilli stepped into the shoes of Paolo Ciabatti, a well-known figure within Ducati, last winter. Grassilli's first major hurdle was the renewal of Francesco Bagnaia with his contract, a seemingly straightforward task that proved surprisingly complex.

A Look at the Extended Bagnaia Contract

 "Previously, my focus was securing sponsorships to fund racing activities," Grassilli revealed in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com. "Negotiating a contract, with the responsibility of managing the budget, was a new experience. While I anticipated a smooth process, it was far more challenging than expected."

Despite the difficulties, an agreement was reached. "Everyone assumed Pecco's renewal was a given, but it required significant effort," Grassilli emphasized. The Bagnaia Contract renewal signifies Ducati's commitment to a rider nurtured within their ranks since his early days.

Balancing Rider Salaries and VR46 Partnership

For Grassilli, the challenge extends beyond the Bagnaia Contract. He must navigate the delicate task of reducing rider salaries, a growing concern for Ducati's owners, Audi.

"The global economic climate necessitates careful management of racing expenditures," Grassilli explained. "Our objective is to achieve sustainable figures regarding team management and rider salaries."

This focus on financial responsibility extends to Ducati's satellite team, Pramac.

"Pramac's management is undergoing a shift," Grassilli said. "The economic climate compels us to be very cautious with racing investments. We're striving for a more sustainable structure concerning team management and rider salaries."

The ideal candidate for the second factory Desmosedici seat will need to accept a significantly lower salary compared to the current champion, Bagnaia, who reportedly earns around seven million euros, with additional performance-based bonuses. Enea Bastianini (current Pramac rider), Jorge Martin (2023 runner-up), and Marc Marquez are all contenders for the coveted spot.

"Jorge possesses immense talent and a Ducati contract," Grassilli acknowledged. "While he has options, his desire has always been the factory team."

"Marc's brand recognition, championship pedigree, and charisma make him a strong contender," Grassilli continued. "Enea's potential is undeniable, but injuries hampered his performance last year. Renewing Pecco was our priority. We are approaching the second rider selection with a measured approach."

VR46 Partnership: Negotiations Amidst Yamaha Rumors

Another pressing concern for Grassilli is Ducati's future with VR46, whose contract concludes this season and has been linked to a potential switch to Yamaha in 2025.

"Discussions are ongoing with VR46, and our desire is to continue the partnership," Grassilli confirmed. "However, integrating this agreement within our new financial framework presents challenges. We understand VR46 is exploring options with other manufacturers, which is to be expected. We are not in a rush to finalize the agreement."

Grassilli's leadership will undoubtedly influence Ducati's trajectory in the coming seasons. The Bagnaia Contract renewal marks a significant step, and his ability to navigate complex rider negotiations and forge a sustainable partnership with VR46 will be crucial for Ducati's continued success.

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Image credit of Ducati

tag: Bagnaia , Ducati

Klei Hoxha Author

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