until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


‘Slow’, ‘nervous’, apologetic – Bagnaia’s 2022 MotoGP nadir

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Ducati MotoGP rider Francesco Bagnaia suffered arguably the lowest point of his unexpectedly troubled 2022 campaign so far, as qualifying for the Argentine Grand Prix yielded his first Q1 elimination in nearly a year.

Bagnaia looked seriously rattled on his Desmosedici bike at several points during the day, most notably late in second practice – during the flurry of activity that determined who would go directly to Q2. Then, Bagnaia found several riders waiting to follow him on the fast lap and, unable to shake them off during the preparation lap, went as far as to unexpectedly move off-line and brake hard on the main straight, in a potentially dangerous move that raised eyebrows throughout the paddock – albeit also one that two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner came to Bagnaia’s defense over.

“I want to say sorry,” said Bagnaia, “but when you are nervous, you do mistakes. I did a mistake, I was wrong, and nothing [else], it was my mistake.

“[The stewards] understood my situation and just told me to try to be more careful and try to be more smart in that situation. Because I was too nervous, looking at riders that are normally complaining a lot about Moto3 riders [cruising around waiting for a tow] but they are doing the same…I was a bit nervous, but it was my mistake.”

The distraction and the nerves clearly didn’t help, but Bagnaia also admitted he was simply not competitive enough over one lap – ultimately coming up a tenth short in Q1.

“With used tyres I was quite confident of doing a good job. I was quite fast, I did a 1m39.3s with 16 laps of tyre [compared to 1m38.610s in qualifying], my feeling was quite good with used tyres. Then we put new tyres on and I struggled a lot to set a good fast laptime.

“It’s true that today I’ve gone slow in qualifying, I was slow. I can’t tell something different.”

Bagnaia, a pre-season favourite after his super-strong end to 2021, has just one point from the first two races. But while in Qatar he fell and took down Jorge Martin while firmly in the top 10 and in Indonesia he struggled in the wet race, this Saturday was arguably the furthest off the pace he’s been this year so far in conventional conditions – albeit with the caveat of a condensed weekend schedule.


But his struggles were visible not just on the bike but on the timesheets, with his Desmosedici looking absolutely brutal over the bumps going through the sweeping Turn 11 left-hander in qualifying.

And this is an area that Bagnaia thinks can already yield a major improvement for Sunday.

“It’s more or less the situation of Austin, last year [in] Austin, that was very bumpy and was critical, the situation, with my [bike] setting,” he recalled, bringing up a Circuit of the Americas weekend in which he was ninth on combined practice times but then took pole and went on to finish third.


“Before the qualifying in Austin we did something that we will do tomorrow that for me will be a good thing, letting me be more constant, because looking also the other bikes – the settings of the other Ducatis – are more safe, and I will go in that direction to not have any more this aggressiveness from my bike.”

Bagnaia quipped that his target for Sunday is to score “more than one point”, but it’s obvious – to him and to everyone else – he’ll need a lot more than that to properly kickstart his season, or it may completely spiral out of control.

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