Francesco Bagnaia says he “can’t be disappointed” with his run to third in the Americas Grand Prix, the Italian reckoning he and Ducati have done the “perfect job” since Austria.
The factory Ducati racer qualified on pole at the Circuit of the Americas with a blistering effort over three-tenths of a second faster than anyone else, though dropped to third off the start-crucially behind title rival Fabio Quartararo-and was soon shuffled to sixth as he struggled with tyre grip in the early stages of the contest.
The two-time MotoGP race winner managed to execute an effective resurgence across the final stanza to salvage third as his rivals faded, though took the chequered flag four seconds adrift of Quartararo-seeing his remote championship chances take another hit as he enters the final three events 52 behind the Yamaha rider.
Bagnaia accepted after the race that race winner Marc Marquez and Quartararo were simply quicker than him in race conditions at COTA, though he insisted he was still “very happy” with the form Ducati as a whole had shown at a venue “we have always struggled at.”
He added that his lack of pace in the opening laps of the race was due to an issue with his rear tyre “lacking grip”, a phenomenon he says was mirrored by Marquez and Quartararo at Misano two weeks ago.
“I’m very happy, we did the maximum as Fabio (Quartararo) and Marc (Marquez) were faster so it was difficult, but we can’t be disappointed,” said Bagnaia.
“Yesterday we did the pole position at a track we have always struggled at, which was already a good result, but to have the podium is another story because I tried from the start but I lacked rear grip.
“I talked to Marc and Fabio and they said at Misano they had the problem I did here, so I started with the maximum grip and they didn’t, here it was the other way around.
“I started to see the riders ahead were struggling a bit and could see that the podium was there, the last part of the race was not easy but finally we achieved another podium and Fabio opened the points gap.
“This is OK because we lost points at other circuits due to other situations but we’ve been doing well since the summer break, we’ve learned a lot and we have continued this way so this is the perfect job.”
The 2018 Moto2 world champion’s job of working himself back onto the rostrum was made easier as team-mate Jack Miller allowed him through just past mid-distance into fourth so he could chase down Jorge Martin, the Italian hailing the “great teamwork” shown by the Aussie.
“Jack (Miller) made this move (allowing him through) by himself because I thought at first he was closing the gap to Fabio and he was doing a really good job with the hard tyre, but then he started to struggle a bit and then caught him by about half-a-second per lap,” continued Bagnaia.
“He let me past so I just have to say thanks to him and for FP4, so we are doing great teamwork because we are always helping each other.
“I could see Jorge (Martin) was in more trouble than me as he was braking earlier, I didn’t force the overtake too much because I saw he was crossing Turn 5 so I knew he had to let me past and then he did a long-lap.
“From Mugello we lost a bit (of form) but from Assen we started to have the same feeling as the start of the season, and even better, every race I felt good and we had bad luck in Austria and Silverstone but we’ve done the best we can.”