Francesco Bagnaia remained firmly in the MotoGP title hunt by recovering from 16th to fourth in Sunday's French Grand Prix.

But the Ducati star might well have joined race-winning team-mate Jack Miller on the podium had he not, like Miller, received a double long-lap penalty for speeding in pit lane during his bike swap.

Bagnaia revealed he lost seven-seconds serving those laps, without which, on paper, he would have finished five-seconds ahead of third place Fabio Quartararo (instead of 1.8s behind) and thus retained the world championship lead.

"I was just asking why I received these penalties because I was sure I entered pitlane with the correct speed, but they tell me I was with 3kmph more," Bagnaia said.

"It is very difficult to feel 3km/h on that bike and in this situation where you don’t have too much time and you have to change the bike… I didn't feel that I was faster, but it was correct that I received the penalties because the rules are there.

"I just lose seven-seconds for that reason. Without these seconds I would be closer to the first two riders. The rules are there to be respected but next time I will pay more attention to it."

Bagnaia confirmed that he had activated his 60km/h pit-lane speed limiter but hadn't braked hard enough initially: "I activated it but when you do that you have 70km/h so I had to stop more the bike."

Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna said: "Both Jack and Pecco did an incredible race, and we could have taken first, second [Johann Zarco] and third today. We just need to see what happened in the pit lane when we exceeded the speed limit during the flag-to-flag."

Nonetheless, Bagnaia said he has enjoyed his first flag-to-flag race experience and now heads into his and Ducati's home race at Mugello just one-point behind Quartararo.

"The flag-to-flag was the first time for me! It wasn't easy, but in a way, I enjoyed it," he said. "In the beginning, I didn't feel completely comfortable on the bike, but in the wet, I was able to find my rhythm right away.

"Finishing fourth in these conditions is a really good result, also considering that last year I was very slow in the rain. Now I am second in the Championship, just one point behind Quartararo, so I'm delighted".

 

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