As usual, Friday was a study day for Bagnaia. Even more so in India, on a track that was new for everyone, where everything still had to be discovered. The world champion worked especially hard before the race, and he’s not at all worried about being 7th, behind Martin and Bezzecchi, his two rivals in the standings. “I’m happy with the work that was done. As always, our basic set-up needs some adjustment, and I was struggling this morning when braking in some parts of the track, like at turns one, three, and twelve. We tried really hard, and I already felt better in the afternoon. My pace was good, even with worn tires,” he stated about Friday’s overall result.
What do you think about the track?
“I expected more problems with the grip. But it’s there in the trajectory while, if you go a little wide, the asphalt becomes very slippery. In those cases, you have to stay calm and get back on the right line, otherwise you lose the front or back. This morning, the conditions were already good, and I don’t think the times will drop very much tomorrow, maybe by a second. They did a good job in cleaning the circuit.”
Do you like the circuit?
“It’s very technical. Some parts are very difficult, like the first corner. There’s only one trajectory, and you have to brake at a precise point. Do it just a meter later, and you end up wide. Being precise is complicated, like at turn twelve. I think I only did it well a couple of times today,” he said laughing. “The most challenging thing, however, is the heat. On the straight, you feel your neck and legs burn, and the Ducati usually doesn’t have these problems. I’m physically prepared, I don’t feel tired but, even in Malaysia, it’s not as hot as it is here.”
Are you fully satisfied with these tests?
“Unfortunately, I only had the chance to get one time attack, and it went well, but I’m still missing something. We have to improve even more when braking. I need to have my usual sensations.”
What are you missing?
“I’ve never skidded so much. In the fast lap, I had my knee on the ground and my bike sideways. It’s fun, for a lap ... then it can become a problem,” he laughed. “I don’t feel like myself when braking. We have to figure out how to improve. I usually make a difference there, so we have to progress.”
Compared to Martin, do you feel like you’re really behind?
“It seems like, in the last few races, Jorge found a basic set-up that works well. He manages to always be fast right away, while I have to work. In conditions like these, it’s a bit more difficult for me, but then I always get there, and tomorrow we’ll be at the same level.”
You’ve been working a lot on the tires.
“I did more than the race distance. With this casing, the drop is constant, and it’s a good thing but, if you push too much, you can have problems, so you have to stay calm and understand the conditions well. The race will be at three thirty. It’ll be really hot, and the rear tire may overheat. In any case, I did twenty-seven laps with the same tire and it went well.”