Francesco Bagnaia says that an improved method of braking with his Ducati explains his drastically improved form compared to his underwhelming rookie 2019 campaign, culminating in a first podium at Misano.
Bagnaia finished second in the San Marino Grand Prix, the Pramac satellite Ducati racer holding off a charging Joan Mir’s Suzuki in the closing laps to finish 2.2 seconds behind Petronas SRT race winner Franco Morbidelli.
The ’18 Moto2 world champion’s impressive result comes after an up-and-down year so far having displayed strong speed at the season opening Spanish and Andalucian GP’s at Jerez, Bagnaia robbed of second in the latter event due to an engine failure in the closing laps, before missing the Czech and both Austrian races after suffering a fractured knee during FP1 at Brno.
Bagnaia revealed after the San Marino GP says that his improved braking approach with the Desmosedici has become his “main advantage” compared to his non-Ducati rivals after being one of his “worst areas” last season.
“At the start of the season I was riding this bike well, I have started to brake in the correct way with this bike and at the moment I can be stronger in the braking points compared to some other riders at Yamaha, Suzuki or KTM and I think this is my main advantage compared to them,” explained Bagnaia.
“I’m very happy because last year braking was one of my worst areas but this year I have closed all the gap I had, and this was the reason I was faster today than the other Ducati’s and I think also that if Jack (Miller) had the hard front he’d be more competitive in the race.”
Bagnaia’s second place comes in his first start since returning from his knee injury, the Italian still forced to walk with a cane due to the affliction still having not fully healed.
His target heading into the weekend was “maybe a top ten”, admitting he was “scared” and “worried” ahead of his comeback due to potentially not being fully prepared.
“I’m very happy, I’ve worked a lot in the last five weeks, the first two weeks were really difficult, from getting out of bed to training, and I was a bit scared about this weekend because I was worried I wasn’t prepared,” added Bagnaia.
“When I saw on Friday I was fast I was not thinking of a podium but maybe a top ten, and then this morning in warm-up I was very competitive, so I tried to push.
“The only problem in the race was in the first five laps because I struggled to find my pace and the front tyre was closing a bit, maybe because it was the hard (compound) but anyway I’m very happy.
“In the last four laps I was struggling with my leg and I had a lot of pain, but I’m very happy with my first podium and at home it’s something incredible.”