Bagnaia: ‘Human, feeling pressure, sorry for Fabio’, Miller: ‘Wild race’

World championship leader Francesco Bagnaia may have qualified ahead of MotoGP title rivals Fabio Quartararo and Aleix Espargaro, but will only start ninth on the grid for potentially the biggest race of his career.
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP, Malaysian MotoGP, 22 October
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP, Malaysian MotoGP, 22 October

If Bagnaia can outscore Quartararo by 11 points on Sunday, and lose no more than two points to Espargaro, he will be crowned as Ducati’s first MotoGP champion since Casey Stoner in 2007.

But after a day when the title trio suffered four accidents, two of them by Bagnaia, nothing can be taken for granted.

“Today, the only good thing was FP4. And Q1 obviously. But FP4 because I was very constant, very fast with very used [soft] rear tyre,” Bagnaia said.

“Then I just did everything to try to ruin the day, because this morning I was too upset, too nervous with what happened with Franco [holding up]. I was a bit angry. But after an hour, I said, ‘it's something that can happen to everybody’.

“So I'm human, and I'm starting to feel a bit of pressure, but I think it's normal.”

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After losing a fast lap behind Morbidelli, who was later penalised and apologised to Bagnaia, the #63 then crashed at Turn 8, forcing him to take part in Qualifying 1.

Holding his nerve to lead the Q1 session, Bagnaia then crashed out at Turn 4 at the end of Qualifying 2, while on course to claim a place on the front row.

“For the qualifying, I wasn't smart enough to understand that my pace was good enough to be on the front row without forcing too much, and I forced a lot in Turn 4, and I lost the front.

“So it was the biggest mistake,” he said.

Fabio Quartararo, Francesco Bagnaia, Malaysian MotoGP, 20 October
Fabio Quartararo, Francesco Bagnaia, Malaysian MotoGP, 20 October

Bagnaia: ‘I’m sorry for Fabio’

Bagnaia may have been quick to highlight his own Saturday errors, but Quartararo’s Turn 8 fall had bigger consequences in terms of a finger fracture, while Espargaro lost his final and potentially best qualifying lap due to an accident at the same corner.

“For sure, [Fabio’s day was] even worse than mine because with the crash in FP4 Fabio broke a finger, and I want just to say that I'm sorry for him, because I think that in this moment, the bad luck he is having is too much, he doesn't deserve it,” Bagnaia said.

“And thinking about Aleix, I think that sincerely, he's struggling a lot from the start of the weekend. Today also when he was behind Jorge Martin, he had a crash, and maybe in that lap he was overtaking me [on the grid].

“But all three, we didn't have a really good day.”

Looking ahead, Bagnaia insists he’s not desperate to secure the world championship on Sunday.

“I will try to do the best possible, and if I will be able to close the things tomorrow, I'm happy to do it,” he said. “But it's not good for me to be forced on that. To think just, I have to close it.

“Because if I gain more points tomorrow, it's just as good, because then we will arrive in Valencia, for sure with more pressure, but a bit more gap. It will be important to be smart tomorrow.”

Four of the eight bikes starting in front of Bagnaia will also be Ducatis.

“I think if they have the possibility, they will try to win. Like always. Like all the year. So maybe tomorrow won't be the day to have some team orders, but let's see. It will be important to be in the front, but we have to be smart, first of all.”

Jack Miller crashed bike, MotoGP, Malaysian MotoGP, 22 October
Jack Miller crashed bike, MotoGP, Malaysian MotoGP, 22 October

Jack Miller: Title contenders ‘highly strung’, expects ‘wild race’

Bagnaia’s team-mate Jack Miller was also in the wars on Saturday, highsiding in Qualifying 1, leaving him 14th on the grid.

“I anticipate quite a wild race tomorrow. Just by judging how everyone is riding, the amount of crashes we've had already.” Miller said.

“The three championship contenders all seem to be pretty highly-strung. It's not normal to have all three of them back in 9th, 10th and 12th.

“So I think tomorrow is going to be quite a wild race. Also because there's some guys starting up front that are not normally there, quite aggressive guys.”

Told of Miller’s “wild race” prediction, Bagnaia responded: “I hope not!”

And what if it rains?

“It will be more difficult, for sure. I was quite competitive yesterday, but the race is another story. Looks like it can rain tomorrow, sincerely. But also today, the forecast was saying it would rain, and it didn't come, just in FP3.

“But let's be prepared for everything.”

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