That's because the reigning title runner-up, who saw his chance of a time attack destroyed by yellow flags following late FP2 accidents for Enea Bastianini and Marc Marquez, felt he finally got to grips with the 2022 Ducati.

Bagnaia had been critical of testing work spilling over into free practice for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, leaving him unprepared for the race. Ducati has listened and the only thing modified in Mandalika was Bagnaia's riding style.

"We’ve done a really good job today. It's the best day of the year, also including the tests," Bagnaia said. "I'm very happy with my feeling on the bike.

"We were just a bit unlucky. I found the yellow flags for Marc and Bastianini so I didn't do a time attack, but my pace with the medium tyre was very strong. It was the first time this year that with used tyres I was in the top three. About that I'm very very happy.

"Compared to the test and also Qatar on day one and day two I feel so much better on the bike," he added. "I can brake, I can be constant and my feeling the front is back.

"I also like the new tyres that Michelin brought here because they are more stable for me.

"Since FP4 in Qatar we didn't touch anything on the bike. I'm just adapting to the bike, like I was doing in the second part of last season.

"It's an automatic thing that I need to have again because, like I said in Qatar, touching [changing] too much on the bike put me in a situation where I was trying to adapt to different situations. So it was not easy."

Ominously for his rivals, Bagnaia said he has rediscovered much of the feeling he had with the previous GP21 at the end of last year, when he won four of the final six races.

"My feeling is back with the front, I can brake like last year, I can enter the corner like last year, I can manage the tyre like last year," replied Bagnaia, who fell from eighth place in Qatar.

Nonetheless, Bagnaia's lowly Friday position means he must keep his fingers crossed for a dry FP3 if he is to avoid Qualifying 1. But if it rains in the afternoon, Q1 might actually be a blessing in disguise.

"I really hope to have the possibility to do just one time attack [in FP3] because I lost this possibility with the two yellow flags today. And I think our potential today was very high," he said.

"If it's wet it will not be easy to go to Qualifying 2 directly. But if it's also wet for qualifying, it can be an advantage to pass through Qualifying 1 to Qualifying 2."

Pramac Ducati's Jorge Martin was the top GP22 rider in fourth, with Bagnaia's factory team-mate Jack Miller sixth quickest.