Bagnaia, who began the race on pole thanks to his new Jerez MotoGP lap record in qualifying, made the most of his first pole this season as he kept pre-race favourite Fabio Quartararo at bay. 

But after seeing how strong the Yamaha rider was at Jerez in 2021, particularly at corners 11, 12 and 13, the Italian reduced himself to riding a very defensive opening lap, as keeping the lead was crucial on two fronts…

The first of those was because anyone in pursuit of another rider was inevitably going to struggle with front tyre pressure given the extreme heat, while the second factor was due to Quartararo showing the best race pace throughout the weekend. 

So how did Bagnaia keep Quartararo behind?

Although the two riders got almost identical launches, Bagnaia was able to close off the corner on more than one occasion, which included riding around the outside of his 2021 rival at turn one. 

"It was one of my best starts ever," claimed Bagnaia. "With this bike I always struggled a bit to not have wheelie off the start, but in the race everything went well. I just closed a bit the corner two because I was hearing Fabio [Quartararo] was there. 

"I was very scared about the last corner as last year he was very strong exiting turn 12. The first lap I just tried to close a bit and then I started to set my pace. 

"I knew that Fabio was for sure the man to beat and in terms of pace, if he was in front then the only problem was the front tyre pressure. 

"With this condition it can be very high. The pace for me was very difficult to be faster than this. The rear was sliding a lot because of the temperature and the front was having a lot of lock."

With so much hype and expectation surrounding Bagnaia going into 2022, the opening four rounds were nothing short of a disaster - failed to secure a podium - while struggles getting on top of the new GP22 bike were proving frustrating for both him and Ducati.

But after claiming eighth in Portimao despite being injured and starting from last, signs were there before Jerez that a return to form wasn’t far away. 

And after claiming win #1 of the season, Bagnaia can officially say he’s ‘back’ in the hunt. 

Bagnaia added: "For sure, I was more optimistic in the tests. But arriving to the first race, the reality was a bit different. I started struggling a bit. 

"I think that we did a good thing by trying to stop adapting the bike to me. Instead we let the bike ride and for sure this bike needs a different riding style. Now I can be even faster in the middle of the corner. 

"But finally, I think I’m back to my best shape like I was last year and I would like to continue like this from now on. We can’t lose any more points because after six races I’m already 33 points behind. I want to start recovering a bit."

Bagnaia fends off injury for Spanish MotoGP win

While his shoulder injury wasn’t thought of as something that could stop him from potentially winning the Spanish Grand Prix, Bagnaia felt he was in trouble after morning warm-up.

“I was very worried about the race because in the morning I was without painkillers and it was very difficult,” stressed the Ducati rider. “I was struggling in warm-up but then clinica mobile always had something good to give to you [laughs with Quartararo] and it helped me in the last part of the race."