The Italian came into 2022 as a firm title favourite, after four wins in the final six rounds of last year, but like all the GP22 riders was left playing catch-up after winter testing with the latest Desmosedici.

A crash in the Qatar season-opener, which also took down Pramac’s Jorge Martin, then marked the start of five consecutive races without a rostrum, before a breakthrough victory in Jerez.

It’s literally been a case of all or nothing since, Bagnaia either winning (50% of the time) or failing to finish in the past six races, mistakes at Le Mans and Sachsenring being compounded by being taken out by Takaaki Nakagami’s Turn 1 accident in Barcelona.

But the lights-to-flag Assen victory, combined with a rare mistake by reigning champion and title leader Fabio Quartararo, meant that Bagnaia went into the summer break on a high note.

Then came the latest, very unexpected, low.

It was after celebrating the Assen victory with friends, Bagnaia said, that he left a disco at 3am in Ibiza on Tuesday and subsequently “ended up with the front wheels [of his car] in a ditch”.

No one else was involved in the incident, but the 25-year-old confirmed that “the alcohol test carried out by the police found that the blood alcohol level was higher than what is allowed by Spanish law.”

Local media report that Bagnaia registered a breathalyser result of 0.87 mg/L, more than three times the allowed limit of 0.25.

“I am sorry for what happened; I am practically a non-drinker, and it was a serious carelessness which should not have happened,” Bagnaia added in his social media post.

“I apologise to everyone, and I can assure you that I have learned my lesson.

“Never get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Thank you.”

One-off drink-driving offence unlikely to impact MotoGP career

Bagnaia is reportedly facing a possible driving ban of between 1-4 years.

The only comparable incident in recent MotoGP history involved Hector Barbera, then a Pramac Ducati rider, who gave a breathalyser result of 0.32 and 0.28 after drinking ‘one glass of wine’ in January 2012.

Like Bagnaia, Barbera issued a public apology and, in sporting terms, the matter was effectively closed.

Whether Ducati will take some kind of disciplinary action against Bagnaia, perhaps in the form of a fine, or if the incident will be viewed as a private matter is currently unclear (Ducati told they have nothing to say at the moment).

Either way, aside from being an unwelcome distraction, it is unlikely to have any impact on Bagnaia’s racing season, which restarts at Silverstone next month with a 66-point deficit to Quartararo.

Unfortunately for Barbera, 2012 wouldn’t be the end of his run-ins with the law, although the Spaniard’s racing career was only impacted when, while racing in the Moto2 class in 2018, he failed another breathalyser test (0.67 mg/L) and left the Pons team by ‘mutual agreement’.

MotoGP and alcohol

For obvious reasons, alcohol tests (breath and/or blood) are carried out on grand prix riders at the circuit, where a positive result means greater than 0.10g/L.

An edited version of MotoGP's rules regarding alcohol at race weekends is as follows:

‘Applicants with an alcohol addiction will not be accepted.

‘For safety reasons riders must not participate in competition if they are found to have a blood alcohol concentration superior to the threshold of 0.10. g/L.

‘The presence of alcohol in a concentration higher than the threshold and the consumption/use of alcohol (ethanol) are prohibited in motorcycling sport during the in-competition period and will be considered as a violation of the Medical Code.’

‘..The in-competition period is defined as the period commencing 12 hours before the rider rides his bike for the first time during the event, ending 30 minutes after the end of the last race in his class and category.

‘This is the minimum period of time that riders should abstain from alcohol prior to competition for safety reasons.

‘For the avoidance of doubt the possession, use and consumption of alcohol during the podium ceremony is not considered a violation under the FIM Medical Code providing that the podium ceremony takes place at the end of the event.’

Any violation of the alcohol code during a MotoGP weekend will result in a rider being:

‘Immediately excluded and disqualified by the FIM MotoGP Stewards. Further sanctions may be applied in accordance with the FIM Disciplinary & Arbitration Code and/or the relevant Sporting Regulations.’