The Spaniard comes into this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix trailing Bagnaia by 14 points, after struggling to fourth in the Malaysian GP behind the factory Ducati team rider.
As such, Bagnaia can win the championship in the penultimate round of the year in Qatar if he outscores Martin by 23 points.
This has only happened once in 2023, when Bagnaia scored 28 points more than Martin in the season-opener in Portugal.
While both have equal factory Ducati machinery, Bagnaia does have allies within the Italian marque’s stable.
At present, no team orders have been issued, but Enea Bastianini could be deployed to help Bagnaia – while the former, whose seat is under threat from Martin right now, will be keen to keep churning out results like his Malaysia win to safeguard his place.
Bagnaia could also rely on his fellow VR46 Academy members Marco Bezzecchi – who officially dropped out of the title race last week – and Luca Marini.
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team, Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing
“I don’t care about friends, I just care about myself,” Martin said when asked if he was worried that Bagnaia potentially has more allies in Ducati than him.
“I feel that if I do my 100% I can beat all of them.
“So, I am focused on the weekend, focused on myself and then if somebody will help him or not, it’s not my [problem]. I cannot control that, so I don’t really care.”
Martin concedes there is pressure on both riders in Qatar as “you will lose the championship” if you make one mistake.
“I think for sure there is a lot of pressure, we all know this,” he added.
“I feel like it’s a really important weekend because we cannot make any mistakes.
“If you make a mistake, you will lose the championship. So, we need to be fast but also not make any mistakes. So, I guess it’s a really complicated weekend.”
Bagnaia has already ruled out Qatar being a match point for himself in Qatar, while Martin is confident the championship battle “will go to Valencia” next weekend.