until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Playing Ducati MotoGP team role has left Bagnaia on back foot

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Despite recording his worst qualifying result since last June’s German Grand Prix, Francesco Bagnaia felt his 2022 really began in earnest this Saturday at the Qatar GP – as he was “back riding my bike with my style” having not been able to do so in testing.

The Italian, seen by many as the ’22 championship favourite after winning four of the final six races in ’21, has looked adrift of the frontrunners all weekend and finally qualified ninth, 0.4s off the pace and as only the fourth-fastest Ducati.

Yet Bagnaia took much more stock in how he got to go about the day of running than in his final result, saying he’d been too focused on testing components until qualifying.

“I tried to do my best, for sure it’s not my best qualifying I did,” Bagnaia said.

“The great thing is that for the first time this year, I found again my feeling with the front, I’m happy about that.

“In the last part of FP4, I entered [the track] with the medium [rear] and I did a 1m54.830s that was not so bad compared to others.

“And in qualifying I was without a great feeling – with a better feeling but not reaching the limit, it was a strange situation.

“But we have to say that was the first time since the start of the year that I used the same bike in two sessions.

“I am happy that we started working again in my way, but for sure when you are in a factory team, you have to try more things – it’s more difficult for that, but I think also what we did today will help all the other Ducatis.”


Bagnaia had already referenced the leftover off-season development work he was having to conduct on Friday, and when asked by The Race whether that was now over and thus a big boost for him, he said: “Yes, because before I never did a session just thinking of myself this year, from the first day of testing. Today FP4 was one, qualifying was another.

“In qualifying it’s difficult to think of yourself, but it was good to feel again my bike, and tomorrow for sure the warm-up will be very, very important for me.

“We can say that my season started today, because it was the first time I was thinking of me.”

Ducati’s big off-season storyline was its engine work, which eventually culminated in the works riders selecting an earlier ‘hybrid’ spec rather than the latest 2022 version.

But Bagnaia also said that he found himself trying so many various new parts and configurations that he only got to “touch something on the [bike] setting” for the first time on Saturday – and joked that he was “finally” now getting to be egotistical.

Bagnaia’s qualifying was partly compromised by a lack of a tow, with many riders benefitting from one – including Marc Marquez, who stuck to Bagnaia like glue on the second run and managed to parlay that into a third-place start.


Bagnaia said there was little he could’ve done to combat that “because we know the style of Marc in this situation, it’s OK like this”, but also said he himself deliberately preferred to be running in clean air specifically due to the lack of “riding my bike with my style” so far in 2022.

“In this moment I have not so many laps with my bike, because I was testing too many things,” he said.

“And I was preferring to go out alone, to do my laptime alone, knowing that it was difficult to be in the front row today – but the great thing is that working on my style, I have found it again, my feeling, with the bike. It was only difficult to reach the limit. And this was where we lost today.”

The Italian said a top-five finish would be good on Sunday, as “we have to be realistic and this weekend there are riders who are faster than me”.

He added: “We just have to think that it’s the first weekend of the season, we don’t have to be worried – because if we start to be worried now, it’s dramatic.”

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