The weekend in Barcelona did not start well at all for Pecco Bagnaia and after his performances at Misano, finding the Pramac Team rider only 14th on the grid was decidedly strange. The poor grip of the Montmelò asphalt had undermined the certainties of the rider who will most likely be announced on Wednesday as Jack Miller's teammate in the factory Ducati team for 2021.
But while it is true that pure talent and the stuff of a champion are even more evident when things get difficult, in Ducati they can put a smile on their face, because Bagnaia was able to find the right form on his GP20 and made a comeback in the race that took him up to sixth at the flag, just behind Miller. A solid performance, which could have been very different if he had improved his grid position.
"I am satisfied but not happy - Bagnaia declared – for that I would have had to start further up the grid, because I was only 14th. At least I know I have learned a lot from this weekend because it is not possible to lose a day like Friday because I was unable to adapt to the grip conditions of the track. This compromised our Saturday, while I knew I had a good race pace. Starting from the back doesn't help, especially on a track like this where the tyres wear out very quickly. At the start of the race I couldn't push a lot, otherwise I would not have reached the end. A shame because towards the middle of the race it seems to me that I was six seconds from Quartararo, while at the end I was three seconds behind. We can be satisfied with the progression. "
You managed to put right a weekend that started badly with a good race. Is this the positive aspect?
"The fact that we managed to recover this weekend is something we must be satisfied with, because we don't always succeed when things are like this. Sometimes it's complicated, in the rush to recover, mistakes are often made. The early laps were very difficult, whoever was in front of me was pushing and I was waiting for him to have the rear tyre drop, because I knew they were all pushing too hard. I waited, I didn't want to wear the tyres too much and this strategy paid off. It was just a shame to start the race so far back. I hope I have understood the lesson and will not make this mistake again in the future ".
Bagnaia: "Michelin was not wrong, no one expected it to be this cold"
The tyres brought by Michelin proved to be unsuitable. Are you worried about what could happen at Le Mans, when it’s expected to be even colder?
"Michelin is not to blame in my opinion. Until Thursday it was 28 degrees here. They never expected to find all this cold, it's not their fault. We riders adapted, in the end we managed to race. For Le Mans, the situation should be different, because they expect it to be very cold. The maximum should be around 14°, the minimum about 5°. In the morning it will be difficult to do something and you also have to see if it will rain and if it does it could be complicated. I'll try to start strong immediately at the weekend ".
What kind of work did you do on the bike to fix the problems?
"We tried to make some changes to the bike on Friday but they didn't work, so on Saturday I went back to what I call my standard bike which went immediately better. For the race I made some very small changes starting from that base and everything worked. The great thing is that we have made great strides from Friday to Sunday. "
Did you also have to change your riding style to suit you better?
"I tried to use the rear brake less, and it is strange for me because I usually use it a lot. Here I had to learn to brake hard using almost only the front. Then it was essential to be very gentle and smart with the throttle, especially to better manage the rear which suffered too much here. I think I succeeded. "
Zarco was out immediately. At this point Ducati just has to say something, the choice seems obvious…
"Let's wait until Wednesday. I think that's the day we will know something. Let's wait and see."
In the other half of the Pramac garage, Jack Miller was the protagonist of a very concrete race, which ended in 5th position right in front of Bagnaia. The Australian, however, had sprinted up to in 4th position and after Rossi's crash, it seemed possible for him to get onto the podium. The great recovery by the two Suzuki riders eliminated him from the fight for the podium, just like for Franco Morbidelli.
Jack Miller: "I wanted a podium, hopefully at Le Mans"
"I wasn't far from the front guys in the race at all and that's okay - explained Miller - towards the middle of the race I had a small drop in grip and I lost ground on the guys at the front. Then Morbidelli also made his mistake and we found ourselves again not too far away. For about ten laps I tried to keep the wear of the rear tyre under control, which on the left started to be too much ".
You wanted to get off to a good start and you did. Maybe the tyre choice could have been better?
"The first lap didn't go badly; in the end I was where I should be. I had no other options for the tyres, the one I made was the only possible choice to get to the end of the race. I took home a few points and it's not bad, but I'm not happy because my goal was to stay with the group of those in front and not finish behind and just off the podium ".
Could Le Mans be a favourable track?
"I like Le Mans, in 2019 I was fast, but I hope I don't have any problems with the tyres. I'm afraid it might be cold there and I'm worried. Also in Valencia I'm concerned it might be very cold. For me in general the cold is not a big problem, since I live in Andorra and I'm used to it, but on a motorcycle it's different."