You have to know how to lose, and that’s what Bagnaia did today. If in qualifying he managed to beat Aleix Espargarò and Aprilia with a perfect lap, Pecco’s commitment and talent against the Italian-Spanish army weren’t enough in the Sprint Race. The world champion tried to give Aleix a hard time, then blocked any attempt to overtake Viñales, but 2nd place was the best possible result he could reach. Not bad, considering that he still increased the gap in the standings over Martin and Bezzecchi.
“I’m satisfied because doing more than that today was impossible, Aleix was faster,” he admitted “I tried to get a bigger advantage in the first laps, but I knew that Espargarò was there, behind me. I was missing a bit too much in terms of grip. Maybe I pushed too much in the first few laps, but it was the right strategy. When he overtook me, I tried to follow him, but it was impossible. I gained a little when braking, but it wasn’t enough. It was too fast for me today.”
But tomorrow he’ll try to turn the tables.
“My team is already working on what we saw today to try to close the gap. It won’t be possible to keep the same pace tomorrow as today. After twelve laps, the front tire was destroyed. But with the medium on the rear, I usually feel better.”
Will that be enough?
“I need a bit of extra grip. We know that in the first part of acceleration, the Aprilia works very well. It won’t be easy to reach it but ... never say never. They have an advantage. It won’t be enough to just use the medium tire to undo it. We have today’s data. I studied the Aprilia in the sprint, and tomorrow we’ll try to progress, like in Assen. There’s a bit of a margin.”
You beat them in qualifying. How do you respond to those who say you win only because of the Ducati?
“It’s something I don’t care about. People will keep talking anyway. I know the work we do, our potential, I try to give it my all, and you can see the results.”
You could tell that you made a difference in braking today.
“I started to improve more or less last year even if, from the outside, they thought that the other Ducati riders wouldn’t pass me due to presumed team orders. In the past, I was the one who had improved in braking, and it wasn’t easy, because we’re a bit at the limit with the front tire, especially now with the minimum pressure rule, and on circuits with little grip, like this one. Today I was able to brake well with my bike, but Aleix overtook me, so I have to continue to progress,” he said smiling. “Braking helps me be more effective in time attacks and battling.”
With Viñales, were you thinking of Le Mans where you both ended up falling.
“We joked about it together. I told him that if he wanted to repeat that episode, I’d let him pass,” he laughed. “Today was fun. I tried to be perfect in braking and not give him a chance to overtake me. I was scared at the thought of being overtaken, like Rossi with Lorenzo in 2009,” he laughed again.