Francesco Bagnaia says he is “very angry” after struggling with rear grip during the restarted Styrian Grand Prix that resulted in a lowly 11th place finish.
Bagnaia jumped pole-man Jorge Martin on the initial start to lead the opening few laps of the encounter before a lengthy red flag period as a result of a nasty crash involving Dani Pedrosa and Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori forced a complete restart from the same grid positions in which the field had qualified.
The Italian took the opportunity to swap his marginally used rear soft compound tyre for a new one, though this looked to be a mistake as the race got underway-the Ducati pilot quickly falling back through the field as he lacked rear grip.
Having dropped as far as 11th in the early stages of the encounter, Bagnaia took ninth after passing Alex Marquez on the final tour-though received a three-second penalty for a track limits infringement that dropped him behind the LCR rider as well as Pedrosa’s KTM in the final classification.
The 2018 Moto2 world champion says he is “very angry” about the way his race unfolded after his strong getaway on the original start, the Italian hoping he can enjoy a “calm” Austrian GP event this weekend-having now dropped to 58 points adrift of series leader Fabio Quartararo in the riders standings.
“I’m very angry about the race because everytime I’m strong and have the potential to make a great race I have problems like this,” said Bagnaia.
“It’s very difficult to understand because on the first start I was very competitive and everything was working well like it had been through the weekend, and then most of the track I felt like the rear was not working and it felt like I had zero grip.
“It was very difficult and I tried to make a good result but the only thing that was helping me was the hard front, the rest was difficult and we need to find out why because sometimes this happens.
“The only good thing is that in the first start I was very strong and we need to try and start from that point next weekend, and hopefully try to not have any problems and go from FP1 trying to not suffer from these issues again and have a calm weekend.”
Miller: Third ’21 crash “hard to take”
Factory Ducati team-mate Jack Miller meanwhile enjoyed a stronger performance throughout the restarted contest as he pressured third-placed Quartararo in the closing stanza of the Styrian GP as the Yamaha man started to struggle with his tyres.
The Aussie pushed a little too hard trying to get on terms with the Frenchman though and lost the front of his Desmosedici at Turn 7, exiting the race as he slid through the gravel-his third non-score of the year dropping him a distant 72 points behind Quartararo in the championship with eight rounds remaining.
Miller says his keenness to get close enough to attack Quartararo at the penultimate corner led to his demise, the three-time premier class race victor admitting he tried to pull his machine up a smidge more on entry to Turn 7 a little more than he had prior, labelling his mistake as “hard to take.”
“It wasn’t the hard front (that caused crash), right from the start I was suffering on the right edge trying to get acceleration, once I had drive grip it was fine and then towards the middle of the race it seemed like Fabio (Quartararo) had lost his drive and edge grip and I had more,” explained Miller.
“The front was mega and he was struggling to stop the bike in some places whereas mine felt rock solid, he was still able to get a couple bike lengths on me when we opened the gas and then I’d have to reel him in towards the end of the straight.
“I was just trying to get close enough so that I could attack at somewhere like the second to last corner, and I managed to do that three laps in a row and was just trying to run a little lower to get that little bit closer and that was all she wrote.
“These moments are just so hard to take because we had three seconds back to Johann (Zarco), it was just him and I and it felt like I had (third) in the pocket but it wasn’t to be today.
“The bike was good all weekend so we just need to read the data and find out what the issue was with the edge of the tyre, then just try to improve that for next weekend.”