Ducati rider Bagnaia won four races in 2021 on his way to second in the standings, having proved to be world champion Fabio Quartararo’s main rival in the title battle.
Though the championship tussle between the pair never got to a heated stage as Quartararo secured the crown with two races to spare, both riders exuded respect for one another at all times.
Having crashed out of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and handed the title to Quartararo, Bagnaia was the first to greet the Yamaha rider in pitlane to congratulate him – and maintained that the Frenchman always deserved the championship more than he did.
In general, the new generation of riders have caused very little controversy amongst each other – a far cry from past rivalries in MotoGP between the likes of Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez, Casey Stoner, Sete Gibernau and Max Biaggi.
When asked by Autosport in an upcoming edition of the Tank Slappers podcast if he expected his rivalry with Quartararo to be as positive as it was, Bagnaia said: “I think that our sport is changing, because years ago it was not like this.
“And I think it’s a great page of our sport, because respect is always the main thing.
“And more than ever, I think, and I feel that respect is the main thing.”
Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
Photo by: Ducati Corse
The respect that Bagnaia received from his peers also extended to within the Ducati garage in the form of teammate Jack Miller.
The Australian said late in the season he would do would he could to help Bagnaia’s title hopes if he was in a positive to do so, while at Austin he waved the Italian through as he charged towards third.
Commenting on the atmosphere in the Ducati garage, Bagnaia added: “I think we have created a great thing in the box, because the air in the box is very calm.
“We cooperate a lot. And for sure it’s something that helps a lot our work, because sometimes he tried a different tyre, I try something different and after the session we speak always about the session.
“I was thinking Jack was a great teammate, because this was already the third year together and we know each other from 2011 and we have a good relationship.
“We are two intelligent riders and I think it’s the best way possible to do a better job.”