Pecco Bagnaia literally found the light again in qualifying for the French Grand Prix. After a rather unenthusiastic FP3, which had put him in to Q1, it looked as if it was going to be an equally difficult qualifying session for the Pramac team rider. However, things went differently for Pecco, who was able to get through together with Danilo Petrucci and then earn an excellent seventh position, to head the third row of the starting grid at Le Mans. A performance that could have been even better, had it not been for a misunderstanding with Miguel Oliveira, guilty of hindering him during his last fastest lap.
It was an episode that made Bagnaia lose his patience, and which Pecco wanted to explain in detail in his meeting with journalists after the end of qualifying.
"I want to apologize to Miguel - explained Bagnaia - because when I'm on the bike and I find someone who goes slowly and slows me down while I’m pushing hard, I realize I'm very nervous. I certainly exaggerated, I was too nervous and angry. He was riding slowly, but he was probably just thinking that in qualifying you just push for three laps and then go back to the pits. For me it was the fourth lap and I was still pushing and he probably didn't know it. In any case if I meet him I will apologize for my reaction , but I will ask him to be more careful about what is happening behind him. "
For his part, Oliveira did not think twice about toning things down, also adding to the accusations in the meeting with journalists.
"Pecco behaved like a child - said Oliveira - after my third lap in Q2 I was off the line, or at least I would say off the ideal line, but certainly not off the track. I couldn't see who was coming, he started waving his hand and for me the worst thing is that he crossed the line of his bike with mine, as if he wanted to hit me and cause an accident, even going into the pits the way he did. For me it is a reflection of what he is, a child ".
This is the video of the incriminating episode:
But Saturday at Le Mans, in addition to this episode with Oliveira, also saw that Bagnaia was capable of fighting for the positions that count in qualifying. A good day, but not particularly exciting as the rider himself explained.
"I don't feel happy. Once again I made a mistake in FP3 because it took me too long to adapt to the cold. It is a condition that I suffer much more than when it is hot. It must be said that FP4 and qualifying went better than expected. It was not an exciting qualifying because it could have been a bit better, but in the end, it’s better not to complain. We start seventh and that's okay for tomorrow, I have a very good pace. I'm satisfied, but not happy. For me to be really happy I should have entered Q2 directly and fought for qualifying with two tyres. I would have done better on the second attempt. "
Bagnaia: " Miller is a master with the cold front tyre"
Did the cold affect your performance this morning?
"Unfortunately, when it's cold I struggle to warm up the tyres and that was the problem again today. The temperature of the front begins to gradually drop, I can't warm it up as I would like. The only thing that can be done in those circumstances is to pushing a lot on the tyres and it only came good in FP4, when the temperature was who knows how much higher. Usually we use a harder compound, but here it's impossible. What I can do is just improve my confidence on the tyres when it's cold. Miller is a master in this because it hardly makes any difference to him when the front tyre is cold. He always pushes hard and I can learn a lot from him. "
How are you on race pace?
"I feel ready for the race, I think I am in really good shape with regards to managing the tyre wear. Just think that in FP4 I did my best lap with a tyre that had 26 laps on it even though I got it completely wrong in T4. I could have lapped faster, then in Q1 I understood how to improve in that sector too. I think we will be ready for tomorrow, but there are several riders who have a good pace. Only Quartararo seems much faster, but I think I can fight for the top five ".
Did you expect the Ducatis to be so fast at Le Mans? There are a lot of them up at the front…
"Our bike here has always been fast, even in 2019 it was very fast. I think it depends on the way this track is made, because the corners are long and you don't need a bike that turns tight. The only small problem is that the front tyre warms up slower than the Yamaha and the Suzuki, but I think we have taken a step forward on that. The Ducatis will be fast tomorrow. "