Bagnaia eventually overcame a 91-point deficit (the largest in MotoGP history) to pip reigning champion Fabio Quartararo on the final day and claim his maiden title.

But he crashed five times in 2022 and was involved in a drink driving incident while on holiday in Ibiza.

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"In the summer I told Pecco that I was a bit surprised by some of his falls,” Iannone told La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

“But I also told him that there was room to recover. I was sure he would come back, I expected this return: it was quick and fresh. He was very good."

Bagnaia’s journey to becoming the first Italian to become MotoGP champion since Valentino Rossi in 2009, and Ducati’s first premier class champion since Casey Stoner in 2007, included Iannone.

He might have claimed the accolades that were ultimately destined for Bagnaia had the stars aligned differently.

Iannone remains banned from MotoGP until late-2023 after serving a four-year doping ban - he has regularly claimed that he will make a comeback, although a route back in may prove impossible.

"With Ducati we have taken great satisfaction and we have traced a virtuous path," he said of his four-year spell with the team from 2013-2016 which yielded a fifth-place finish in 2015.

"That bike was a bullet on the straights, but it had problems on other tracks.

“From there began a brutal growth and always with a very futuristic technology. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see what we could do together." 

Iannone’s MotoGP journey ended after two seasons at Suzuki and one at Aprilia. He remains sidelined as Ducati and Bagnaia claim the glory that he once dreamed of.