The factory Ducati star won four of the final six races last year, finishing third in another and falling from the lead in Misano.

But overrunning development work on the GP22 meant Bagnaia wasn't ready for the start of this season, crashing out in Qatar, then struggling to 15th in the wet Mandalika race.

Bagnaia's woes continued with 13th on the grid after a frustrating Saturday in Argentina, before a last minute breakthrough with front-end feeling in the extended warm-up.

That allowed Bagnaia to charge through the field to fifth, setting the third fastest lap of the race and being one of the quickest on track in the closing stages.

"We did a really good job in the warm up," Bagnaia confirmed. "I found my feeling back with the front, finally. I was feeling better already in Mandalika, but it was less than now.

"I was able to do what I wanted with the front of the bike. Everything was better, I was pushing hard on the brakes in the entry to the corners.

"I said sorry to my team, because I was nervous and angry [on the Saturday] so I started far behind. But after our hard work in warm-up, where we had the luck to have 40 minutes, we made a good step.

"I'm feeling great again, my feeling with the front like last year was there, and I recovered a lot of positions. I really needed a race like this."

Bagnaia now heads straight for this weekend's US-round in Austin, where he completed the podium alongside Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo last October.

"I'm sure that with the race of [Argentina] I will be more competitive in America," Bagnaia said. "Already last year I was competitive there, and I think that this year can be a bit better.

"One thing that I think can be very important is to not have pressure, to be smart, be calm, and restart from what we have done [in Argentina].

"P5 for sure is not the main objective, but it is very helpful for the future, for a start to think again about being on top."

A further positive sign for this weekend is that the Termas warm-up setting was inspired by last year's bumpy experiences at COTA.

"In Austin last year, the situation was more or less similar for the bumps. And it was so much better," he said. "If I was starting with that bike in FP2, for sure I would have done a good race.

"I hope that in America, we can have a normal weekend [schedule], and not just FP1 and FP2 [then qualifying]," he added of the revised Argentina event, which saw Friday practice cancelled due to freight delays.

"Because then I think we will start to see more consistency from the riders. For me it's like this."

Anger management

Usually ice cool, Bagnaia became highly agitated in Argentina when handling issues were compounded by catching a group of slow riders looking for a tow on Saturday.

"Normally I'm not so nervous. I'm quite calm, it was maybe because I was pushing and things were not arriving, and I became more and more nervous. Also when I saw several riders following me, it was one of the final things that made me so upset," said Bagnaia, who was warned by the FIM Stewards after pulling to the side of the track and then hitting the brakes to shake off any pursuers.

"I did a mistake, I'm human, I think everyone can make mistakes, and it will be important to understand this lesson and make sure there can be no possibility to be so angry."

The subsequent race day charge eliminated much of that anxiety.

"I can say that my World Championship really started last week, and now I'm determined to maintain this momentum," Bagnaia said.

Bagnaia is currently just 14th in the world championship with 12 points – that's just one point more than Marc Marquez, who has missed the last two races.

Miller 'determined to finally turn my season around'

Team-mate Jack Miller didn't find a warm-up breakthrough with the front feeling on his Desmosedici and finished, where he had started, in 14th.

"I'm happy to get back on track this weekend and put the Argentina race behind me," said the Australian. "The last GP was strange: we hadn't raced at Termas for two years, and we struggled a bit with such a tight schedule.

"Now we go back to Texas for the GP of the Americas at a track that I like and where, in general, I can be fast. I'm determined to do well and finally turn my season around."

Miller, another proven race winner yet to feature on the podium so far this year, is eleventh in the world championship with 15 points.