's Top 10 MotoGP Riders of 2021: 2nd - Francesco Bagnaia

Francesco Bagnaia second in our top ten rider countdown for the 2021 MotoGP season.
Francesco Bagnaia , Valencia MotoGP race . 14 November 2021
Francesco Bagnaia , Valencia MotoGP race . 14 November 2021
© Gold and Goose Photography
  • Team: Ducati Lenovo (factory)
  • Bike: GP21
  • Wins: 4
  • Podiums: 9
  • Best Qualifying: 1st (x6)
  • Fastest Lap: 4
  • DNFs: 2
  • Championship position: 2nd

One rider led 34% of the racing laps in MotoGP this season - and it wasn't world champion Fabio Quartararo, but runner-up Francesco Bagnaia.

Parachuted into the factory Ducati team after Andrea Dovizioso's departure, Bagnaia arrived with just a single podium to show for two injury-interrupted seasons at Pramac where, in his own modest words, he "only felt fast once or twice".

But he soon began to thrive in the factory environment, three podiums from the opening four rounds putting him just a single point behind Quartararo heading to his home Mugello round.

The Italian race was to be a pivotal moment for Bagnaia's title aspirations. Favourite for a debut victory, but with his head full of emotions after a minute of silence for Jason Dupasquier just before the start, Bagnaia fell from the lead on only the second lap.

Bagnaia would be forced to wait four months to finally become a MotoGP race winner, courtesy of a thrilling victory over a lunging Marc Marquez at Aragon. It kicked off a peerless end-of-season run that saw four wins in six races, a fall while leading at Misano and third place in COTA.

While the Misano crash - the consequence of Ducati's hard front-tyre choice in the cool conditions, catching out team-mate Jack Miller in identical fashion - officially settled the championship, Bagnaia had also been the innocent victim of tyre performance issues at Silverstone (14th).

Nonetheless, the magnitude of the progress made by Bagnaia this season was remarkable.

A rider that was ranked just 15th and 16th in the world championship during his previous (injury-interrupted) MotoGP seasons, eclipsing all but Quartararo and finishing a massive 71-points clear of experienced Ducati team-mate Jack Miller.

But it was Bagnaia's incessant speed at all tracks from Assen onwards - he qualified on the front row throughout the last ten rounds, the springboard for leading 150 laps compared with 99 for next best Quartararo - that will have his rivals worried for 2022.

It's for those reasons that, regardless of whether the Ducati really is the 'best bike', we feel Bagnaia thoroughly deserved his title runner-up status this season.

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