Francesco Bagnaia says he is “frustrated but not angry” after he lost any last hopes of taking a maiden MotoGP title with a crash in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The Ducati pilot had to shave more than three points from Fabio Quartararo’s series lead at Misano to head to the penultimate round of the year in Portugal still with a chance to snatch the championship away from the Frenchman at the death, and he looked to be well on course to achieve this after scoring a brilliant pole en-route to leading the first 22 tours of the encounter with the Yamaha rider only fifth.
Despite coming under pressure all race from Honda’s Marc Marquez, Bagnaia looked to be getting the upper hand as he extended his advantage to just under a second, though heartbreak was around the corner as he lost the front of his machine at Turn 15 with just under half-a-dozen laps remaining-handing Quartararo the title with two races to spare.
The two-time premier class race victor admitted post-race that his choice to run the hard-compound front tyre may have been the wrong decision, team-mate Jack Miller having crashed in an identical fashion at the same bend earlier in the race having made the same tyre choice.
“I’m a bit frustrated but not angry, maybe we chose the hard front that was better for me but not for the conditions, but it was the only one that gave me this feeling with the bike so I tried and pushed a lot,” explained Bagnaia.
“The pace was incredible and then I crashed, but I’m happy with the work done this year and the improvement we have made, especially the level of the last four races.
“I’ve always been in the top three the last four races, and this year the title was not my or the teams objectives because I was coming into the factory team without winning any races and hadn’t fought for anything because I finished 16th (in riders standings) last year.
“This year I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot, I’m sure next year our bike will be even more incredible than this years, and I’ll be more prepared for the championship.
“I don’t know why I crashed but I was on the limit, it was winning or gravel so I tried all but I got the gravel so this was frustrating.”
The 2018 Moto2 world champion reckoned that Quartararo had entered the 2021 season “more prepared” to fight for the title due to having “already lost one”, Bagnaia believing the experience he has garnered this year will assist him in challenging for the championship next season.
“The only possibility (of title) was to win and we were at the top again, so we just have to be happy,” added Bagnaia.
“My objective this year was always to be in the top five and we did it, and we are now second in the championship, I think the worst place I can finish is third which is a great result.
“My objective is to finish second which I know is the first loser, but I will try hard to be second.
“He had one more years experience fighting for the championship because last year he already lost one, so he was more prepared to be on top and fight so for me this like is like Quartararo last year, I’ve learned a lot and I think we’ve made amazing improvements and next year we’ll be more prepared.”