The four-time race winner came into the new campaign as hot favourite to challenge for the championship after finishing 2021 runner-up, while declaring in November’s Jerez test that Ducati had improved on an already “perfect bike”.
But the pre-season for Ducati was difficult, as a problematic 2022 engine – with an aggressive power delivery – prompted him and team-mate Jack Miller into using a hybrid 2021/2022 motor for the new season.
Bagnaia struggled to ninth in qualifying and dropped to 14th on the opening lap, before ending his race on the 12th tour in a collision with Pramac poleman Jorge Martin, while Gresini’s Enea Bastianini on a year-old Ducati won the race.
The Ducati rider says he struggled to find the feeling he had with the front-end of the bike in 2021 during the Qatar weekend, and believes he hasn’t focused enough on his own riding style with the GP22.
“It’s a bit strange because in my situation I work too much,” he said.
“We finished our work in FP3 and this is not possible for me, it’s not great. My feeling was back in FP4, but just because we re-decided and I found again my feeling with the bike.
“From that point we didn’t touch the bike until this morning [in warm-up] when I was riding and I was fifth, and I was not ready for the race because I was a bit faster but the electronics and the setting of the bike was not good for the grip and the track.
“We had to do something for the race, but we were behind.
“Considering our pace of yesterday, what we were doing during this race was quite good because I was recovering, I was fast.
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“Not like the first [guys] obviously but I was quite fast, and it’s clear that the bike of last year that was winning the last races today has won.
“Enea [Bastianini] from his first day of testing started just to put fuel on the bike and was riding, and we were too much concentrated on developing.
“In my part, from that point we will never touch the bike again and will just ride.”
Bagnaia added that it was “too ambitious” to think he could have fought for victory on Sunday as the bike simply “was not ready”.
“I was 16th at Turn 3, so was not the best start for sure,” he began.
“Then I started to push to recover positions, but we were not ready at all to fight for the win today.
“It was too ambitious to think on the victory, but we tried to recover positions.
“My pace was quite good, thinking about what we have done this weekend.
“The main thing will be to start from this and don’t touch anything on the bike anymore, because I really need to be more concentrated on me and thinking more on my riding style and to have again the same feeling of last year and the same results of last year.
“I know we have the possibility to win races, but for now we have to just think about me and this will be the key to being in front again.”
Bagnaia explained on Sunday evening that his crash with Martin was down to a “strange” locking of the front end, while the latter said he had “fear” for his life in the incident.