Starting from pole, the factory Ducati star passed team-mate Jack Miller on lap 4, then remained at the head of the field until the fateful 21st lap.

It began with Enea Bastianini, riding last year’s GP21, diving for the lead into the first chicane.

Bagnaia immediately retaliated by cutting under Bastianini’s GP21 through the downhill Turn 6 plunge, only to hand the advantage back to the Gresini rider by running wide under braking for Turn 8.

There were still six laps remaining to take the fight to Bastianini, but Bagnaia’s race only lasted a few more corners with the Jerez winner losing the front and crashing out of second place.

“It was a perfect race until the crash,” Bagnaia said. “I was managing, I was constantly fast. I managed Jack when he was behind. When Enea overtook Jack, I pushed a bit more, my pace was very competitive, very constant.

“Then when Bastianini overtook me, I did just the same strategy that I did in Aragon when I was fighting with Marc. I tried to be back in front of him as soon as possible, but then I did a mistake in Turn 8.

“I just tried to brake a bit harder, but the front was locking today, so I just went straight. Maybe I braked too hard. Then when I was back on track, I was just thinking, 'no pressure, I will retake him', not that soon but with consistency.

“My idea was not to recover to him as fast as I can, because I knew that it was easy to make a mistake, but then arriving in the second-to-last corner, I entered a bit slower, and I crashed.”

While Miller fitted the soft front tyre, Bagnaia switched to the medium (also used by Bastianini) for the race. One possibility is that  by running wide and rejoining, the tyre had cooled down.

“I was feeling good with the soft, but today the temperature was a bit higher. So we just decided to race with the medium. But I don't think that was the problem of the crash,” Bagnaia said.

“I don't know why. I did Turn 11 slower, just to breathe a bit, and then when I arrived to the second last corner, I crashed. So it's difficult to say something about it. I just saw the data to understand, but it's very difficult to understand. I'm a bit angry now.”

Bagnaia: It’s time to be more mature

On the crest of a wave after a brilliant end to last season, the Le Mans accident was the latest setback in a frustrating start to the 2022 campaign for the reigning title runner-up.

Having already lost big points with a crash in the opening Qatar round and 15th in the wet at Mandalika race, Bagnaia will now head to his and Ducati’s home race having dropped 46 points behind Fabio Quartararo.

Quartararo had been the pre-race favourite but was only in fifth place at the time of Bagnaia’s accident.

“We were all expecting Fabio to be the man to beat, but I knew that our pace was very good, like in Jerez,” Bagnaia said.

“The only thing that matters today is that I lost 25 or 20 points.

“Now I have to think about this crash, to try to understand, to try to improve myself. Because I can't win the championship with these mistakes. So maybe it's time to be more mature.”

Bastianini: Pecco was a bit nervous

After sealing his third victory of the season, moving him within eight points of Quartararo, Bastianini said:

“When I tried to overtake him, for me Pecco has been a little bit nervous, he overtook me again and after has [run wide].”

Bagnaia: Ducati will decide my 2023 team-mate

Miller, Bastianini and Pramac’s Jorge Martin are all in contention to be Bagnaia’s factory Ducati team-mate in 2023.

After his latest victory, Bastianini said he had interpreted some Saturday comments by Bagnaia as meaning his fellow Italian would prefer Miller to stay.

After the race, Bagnaia emphasised that it will be Ducati’s decision.

“It's like I said, Jack is my team-mate from 2019, and I know him very well,” Bagnaia explained. “So it's normal that if you have to choose a team-mate to share your box, you want the man you have more conversations, you have more time, with.

“So for sure, yesterday I said that Jack is one of my first choices, because he's a friend, he's a good team-mate, I like to work with him. But it's something that the team has to choose.

“So if it will be Enea, if it will be Martin, for me it will be the same story. I always had a good relationship with all my team-mates. Enea I think is deserving the place, because, until Austin he was so competitive and today he won [again].”

The latest rumours are linking Miller with a possible move to KTM. If so, that would leave a straight fight between Bastianini and Martin for the TBC factory Ducati seat.

On Sunday evening, Miller himself suggested it would “make sense” for Ducati to go with Bastianini, but other rumours still put Pramac’s Martin as the current favourite despite Bastia's superior results.

The only thing certain at this stage is that Ducati will provide Bastianini with the latest Desmosedici equipment next season.