Bagnaia: “I was scared coming into factory team, there were rumours…”

Francesco Bagnaia feared “rumours” about the Ducati team that he entered after Andrea Dovizioso’s exit.
Bagnaia: “I was scared coming into factory team, there were rumours…”

Two years later Bagnaia has delivered the famous Italian brand its first MotoGP champion since Casey Stoner in 2007, and will begin his title defence this season as a big favourite to take home the top prize again.

But his early call-up from Pramac in 2021 - Bagnaia and Jack Miller replaced Dovizioso, who fell out with Ducati, and Danilo Petrucci - was no guarantee of success.

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“When I arrived in the factory team I was a bit scared, because the rumours were not the best,” he told Sky. 

“But I must say that since I entered, also thanks to Jack Miller, we managed to create a fantastic atmosphere in the garage, we lived peacefully. 

“I am sure that with [new teammate] Enea Bastianini we will do the same, it will be tough because we are both there to win, but we are intelligent and we know very well that working together will lead us to stay in front.”

Bagnaia crashed five times and found himself 91 points behind leader Fabio Quartararo last season before mounting the largest-ever comeback to become champion.

"I am an extremely ambitious and determined person, I knew it would be very difficult,” he reflected. 

“Usually when you are in the middle of the season with that gap you think it's over, but in the end half an hour after the Sachsenring race I recovered, I believed in it again. 

Francesco Bagnaia, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November
Francesco Bagnaia, Valencia MotoGP test, 8 November

“There was a very important meeting before Assen, where we drew a line a bit and started from scratch: it was fundamental for this result, as [Ducati management] and as Enea said we are a very united team.”

Ahead of the preseason Sepang official test, it is expected that the Desmosedici will be the best piece of machinery on the 2023 grid. A year ago, this was not the case.

"At the beginning we had a bit of complications with the new bike, we couldn't make it go like the one of 2021", Bagnaia said. 

“Too many news compared to the previous year, therefore, something that we will hardly see even in 2023. 

"When we accepted our mistakes we took a huge step forward, as well as an incredible job with what we had. 

“I threw away many points for my mistakes, but I am always of the idea that without making mistakes you do not learn. And I think I learned a lot last year and this allowed us to run an incredible season in which everything worked at its best. We brought home the maximum and I'm very proud."

Bagnaia won the season at the final round in Valencia, the first Italian rider to become champion since his hero Valentino Rossi, who notoriously failed at Ducati, in 2009.

"It was a very long day, it didn't end,” Bagnaia said. “The race also, endless. 

“But in the end I tried to enjoy it, because I knew it would lead us to the dream, that of my life and of Ducati, as well as of Valentino Rossi's Academy which won its first MotoGP title. 

“I knew that all this was behind me and it was very heavy, but as soon as I crossed the finish line I thought I had made it, a fantastic moment. I hope there are many more, but having one already makes me happy."

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