Needless to say, the Sprint didn't go the way Bagnaia expected. He started the short race with a 21 point lead, he finished it with 14: Martin won and Pecco did not go any better than a 5th place which only increases the pressure for tomorrow. The advantage is still significant, with the same result as today the number 1 would remain on the fairing of his Ducati, but the pressure is destined to increase and everything will be decided in 27 laps which promise to be high tension.
“I just made a mistake in choosing the rear tyre, the soft would have been better – was Bagnaia's mea culpa - I decided to mount the medium because I was fast this morning and I expected more. I made a mistake".
Not to be repeated…
“For tomorrow I will have no doubts, I will make the same choice as Jorge. It's simple (laughs). Considering what happened today, the medium wasn't a good choice: I lost a lot in the first acceleration phase. I tried to force it during braking and corner entry, but when the rear doesn't give you enough grip it starts to push on the front and the situation gets worse. That's how it went and I have to stay calm for tomorrow, in the end with the same result as today I would be champion. Martin must win and I know how strong he is in the long race, I know I can be competitive and fight for the podium."
Why didn't you 'copy' Martin's choice today too?
“My goal was to win, or at least stay in the top 5. This morning I felt really good with the medium tyre, like everyone else I think. It was a shame because I threw away a good opportunity to get more points, but you have to stay calm and serene."
It's not easy…
“The pressure is on both of us, I think Jorge will also feel it more than today because tomorrow he will have to win and he won't be able to make mistakes. The same will apply to me, this evening I will go to dinner with my team and I hope to be able to enjoy it. I know I have a very fast pace and I just made the wrong choice of rear tyre, usually on Sunday I'm strong. Being in front is a better situation, even if sometimes being behind allows you to push with nothing to lose."
What are your plans for spending the night?
“I hope to sleep, last year I managed to do so. I'll be with Domizia and maybe we'll watch a film that's a little softer than the one I saw last year (laughs)".
Now you look seraphic.
“It's all appearance! (laughs) Last year, even though I had 9 points more, I was in more trouble than today. Maybe I have learned my lesson and it would be very important, but I know that 10 minutes before the start the emotions will be very intense."
Would the best strategy tomorrow be to stay ahead and away from any trouble?
“Today I tried, but it wasn't enough because Vinales overtook me at the second corner and after 2 laps I was 5th. It will be important to make a perfect start like today's and then try to push a bit more in the first laps. I will have to improve a bit in the first two corners and then push."
Is the best defence attack?
“It will depend. If Martin is 1st I won't be able to wait, last year I was in an easier situation. If I start well I will try to push, give everything and then understand the situation with 10 laps to go, to understand if I will have a bit of margin."
Were you worried when Quartararo crashed in front of you?
“We were very close, first I breathed a sigh of relief. He was very fast, he caught me very quickly and I think if he had passed me he could have got back to the front group. He tried a difficult manoeuvre, because I was far in front and he braked really hard. Unfortunately he crashed, otherwise perhaps he could have won."
Do you think di Giannantonio used caution in not trying to overtake you?
“I think so, we were fighting for 5th place and nothing would have changed for him to get in front of me, but for me it would have. Now I have 14 points advantage, not many but I'm still ahead, in the best position."
At the beginning of the year, did you expect to have it all at stake in the last race?
“I imagined that I would be fighting against another Ducati rider and I knew that it was a possibility to get to Valencia, considering everyone's level and also the introduction of the Sprints. At the beginning of the season they saved me, but now they have screwed me. For sure the mistakes I made and the bad luck I had relegated me to this situation, but I was still 1st in the championship for the whole season except for one race even with 5 zeros on Sunday and 3 on Saturday. I must have gone looking for it a bit."
You usually do your best in the long race.
“I'm happy because the real race is on Sunday, but for the future I'll have to take a step forward in the Sprints. Since mid-season I've been losing Saturdays and going strong on Sundays."
You will start from 2nd place, an almost unexpected result after the problems in free practice.
“Unfortunately yesterday we had several problems and I hadn't been able to test the bike with today's setting, as soon as I got on it I was immediately fast, I had fantastic sensations and I didn't have to change anything anymore”.
Today 3 riders were found under the tyre pressure limit, is this something that worries you for tomorrow?
“I hope my team will do a good job, but today my front tyre pressure was perfect. It's strange that some riders had this type of problem, also because the limit here is lower and Diggia was in my slipstream."