Nobody in their right mind would smile for a twentieth position in the timesheets at the end of free practice Friday and even Pecco Bagnaia has no difficulty in admitting how hard this first day of the second weekend in Aragon was. The Pramac team rider hoped to have found the stepping stone in the race on Sunday to make his Ducati work at MotorLand, but this Friday instead took him back to a different and much harsher reality.
For his part, Bagnaia shows an enviable calm and maturity in meeting journalists. He analyses the situation in detail, is lucid in talking about what the problems may have been and above all about the work done in the garage to find the solutions to these problems, which is the really important thing. In short, it was a tough day, but there is also a great desire to change things as early as tomorrow morning, with the awareness of actually having a still hidden potential, much higher than what has been shown up to now.
"Quite tough today - Bagnaia admitted immediately - difficult, but at least today we made a change that I really liked. I felt better immediately and I think it can give me an advantage tomorrow with the new tyres, so we'll see. This morning I didn’t have a good feeling at all and I struggled a lot. This afternoon I went a bit better, but the Ducatis are behind and we are struggling. I hope to be able to improve, to bring us back a little bit because in my opinion the potential of our bike is huge on a track like this. Today I liked the step forward and I think it can help us also for the race. But we lack speed, especially on the pace we are in bad shape. We will get there tomorrow, at least we will try. Today's crash explains well how hard we are pushing to go fast or at least how much we are trying to succeed ".
Can you explain the dynamics of the crash? You seemed almost straight when you lost the front…
"Basically I braked hard, I had been pushing for a few laps. The tyres were already on their third run, basically at the end of their life, but I tried to brake hard all the same, I was straight and the front closed in. There were several crashes here, it will also be a possibility in the race. It could be a limit for the race, because I braked hard and it is one of my characteristics. But in my opinion there was a margin to do so. Our strong point is precisely the braking, here we are slightly limited. The problem is that here at Aragon when you are at the limit you don't feel the front. "
Have you changed your approach a lot from last weekend?
"Seeing as last weekend we started working for the race practically only in FP4 due to the conditions, this weekend we focused today on the race pace and I think we are six-tenths away from the best, this is the gap that we have to make up. Tomorrow morning we will have two tyres to play with and we will try, because in my opinion we have the potential to enter Q2. But the important thing in reality would be to close the gap on the race pace ".
On paper, Aragon should have been favourable and instead the Ducati is suffering a lot…
"We thought we had an advantage here, but we are working a lot. It’s a difficult and complicated situation, but I am sure that the result will come. I am trying to bring the potential of the bike on this track to the level it deserves and to do so today I also crashed. If you want to get there, you have to take risks, the only thing you have to do to get Ducati to the top. But today we did a good job, we'll see the real potential tomorrow. "
What do you think is the real limit now?
"In my opinion the grip at the rear is limiting us. We see the bikes that pass us, they have more grip at maximum lean angle, which we lack. But even when you straighten the bike and open the throttle in the rear it doesn't push enough. This is a limit which we are working on and which affects our performance at the moment. "
Are you using the new suspension that Miller has already been using for a few races?
"I'm using the new rear suspension, it's no secret in the end. I've been using it since Misano 2 and I immediately felt much better. Last weekend I did a comparison, but I preferred the second shock absorber used in Misano, it helps me more. But it is only a question of the rider's sensations. It helps out of corners for the movements of the bike, nothing more. "