Bagnaia's bet backfires but 'Fabio deserved title'

Francesco Bagnaia's MotoGP title hopes end with a late fall from the race lead in Sunday's Emilia-Romagna MotoGP.
Francesco Bagnaia crash, MotoGP race, Emilia-Romagna MotoGP. 24 October 2021
Francesco Bagnaia crash, MotoGP race, Emilia-Romagna MotoGP. 24 October…
© Gold and Goose Photography

Francesco Bagnaia insisted it had been the right decision to chose the hard front tyre despite crashing out of the Misano race lead, handing Fabio Quartararo the MotoGP title with two rounds to go.

After a damp weekend prior to the race, and temperatures 5-degrees lower than at the previous Misano round, Bagnaia and factory team-mate Jack Miller were the only riders to pick the hard front compound.

Both then fell in almost identical accidents, at Turn 15.

Miller's exit came on lap 4, while riding shotgun behind Bagnaia. The Italian then slid off while holding a narrow lead over Marc Marquez with just 4 laps remaining.

"We bet on using the hard front," Bagnaia said. "It was a good choice, but the problem was I just needed to push every single lap, because one lap without pushing and the front was too cold and it was easier to crash.

"It was not because I lost concentration. I was pushing. Today was either win or in the gravel, and I tried everything to achieve this win, and I crashed."

While Miller confirmed the Ducati accidents were "to do with our [tyre] choice We went a bit leftfield and tried the hard front. It seemed a master stroke around 1pm. But on the grid the clouds came in and the track temperature was borderline. It wasn’t quite warm enough."

But the Australian had also been struggling with the medium front locking in a straight line and Bagnaia also felt he had little choice but to use the hard, despite the risks.

"The tyre choice was good I think, it [the hard] was the only one that was helping me on the braking," Bagnaia said. "The medium for me was worse than the soft. The soft was already on the limit yesterday and this morning, so the hard [front] was the correct choice.

"The only thing was with the hard, you just need to push like hell every single lap to keep the tyre hot and maybe I braked a little earlier that lap."

Bagnaia had also been a grade higher than Marquez in terms of the rear tyre, joining most of the field on the medium while the Honda rider had the soft.

"I knew that with the medium [rear] in the last laps, I was more competitive than a rider with the soft," he said. "I could see that Marc was behind, but I was also knowing that my potential was higher. So it was pressure, but not like Aragon or last time here [with Quartararo]."

The double 2021 race winner needed to score three points more than Quartararo to take the title fight to the penultimate round in Portimao, something he was comfortably on course to do with the Yamaha rider fifth at the time of his fall.

"We tried everything to achieve this win and to leave open the championship," Bagnaia said. "We did the maximum, we were fighting to win again, we were very strong and competitive.

"I'm happy about my performance of today, for sure I'm a bit frustrated about the result, because I think that we deserved more. But we were just trying to be always more competitive, and for next year we are for sure in a good way."

But even if Bagnaia had won on Sunday and Quartararo remained fifth, the Frenchman would still have taken a 38-point lead into the final two rounds, with a maximum of just 50-remaining.

"I told Fabio that he deserved this title. He was the one who deserved this title the most, so I'm happy for him," Bagnaia said. " Last year he was in my situation, because it was the first time he was winning, and he committed errors in the last part of the season.

"I was in this situation for this year, and I think for next year, we will arrive more prepared."

Bagnaia's attention will now turn to protecting a 27-point lead over 2020 champion Joan Mir for the runner-up spot behind Quartararo, while also helping Ducati hold its lead in the constructors title and overhaul Monster Yamaha's 12-point advantage in the teams' standings.

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