MotoGP

Being Bagnaia’s Ducati MotoGP team-mate “could be a problem for him”

Bastianini won Sunday’s French GP at Le Mans after a brief dice with Bagnaia that ended up with the factory Ducati rider making a mistake while leading on lap 21 of 27 and crashing out a few corners later.

It marked the third win of the season for Bastianini aboard his Gresini-run 2021-spec Ducati and has put him just eight points off the championship lead.

It has also come at a crucial juncture in terms of his MotoGP future, as he is one of the favourites – alongside Jorge Martin, who crashed at Le Mans – to take Jack Miller’s place at the factory Ducati squad next season.

When asked by Autosport on Sunday at Le Mans if he felt he was giving Ducati no choice but to promote him to its factory squad, Bastianini said: “I don’t know. I’m not the Ducati boss.

“But I think my situation is better in respect to the other Ducati riders.

“Pecco yesterday said he’d prefer to stay with Jack [as a team-mate].

“And I think his decision, I don’t know if Ducati wants to listen to him.

“But, also in the case of staying at Gresini or other [teams] with a factory package I can be fast.”

And when asked why he thought Bagnaia would prefer to keep Miller as his team-mate, Bastianini remarked: “I think he prefers Miller because he is the leader of Ducati and he knows the potential of me, and also I think of Martin. It can be a problem for him.”

Jack Miller, Ducati Team, Enea Bastianini, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia refuted this when asked about it, stating that he believes Bastianini would deserve the call-up should it come, and only said he would prefer Miller if he had a choice because they have been together since 2019.

“Jack is my team-mate form 2019 and I know him very well,” Bagnaia said.

“So, it’s normal that if you had to choose a mate to share your box with, it’s the man you have more conversations with, spend more time with.

“So, Jack is my first choice because he is a friend, he is a good team-mate, I like to work with him.

“But it’s something that the team has to choose. If it will be Enea, if it will be Martin for me it will be the same story. I’ve always had a good relationship with all my team-mates. Enea I think deserves the place because, in Austin he was so competitive and today he won the race.”

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team crash

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team crash

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Explaining his crash in Sunday’s French GP – which has left him 44 points off the championship lead – Bagnaia says it was “strange” as he wasn’t pushing hard and is “angry” as a result.

“When Bastianini overtook me, I did just the same strategy as in Aragon [last year] when I fought with Marc [Marquez],” he said.

“So, I tried to be in front of him as soon as possible. But then I did a mistake in Turn 8. I just tried to brake a bit harder, but the front locking was heavy, so I just went straight.

“I braked maybe too hard. When I was off and I was back on track, I just thought ‘no pressure, I will retake him’.

“My idea was not to recover to him as fast as I can because I knew it was easy to make a mistake.

“But arriving into the second-last corner I arrived a bit slower and I crashed. So, it was a bit strange. I was remaining on my pace, so everything was ok.

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“The only thing changed was that I raced with the medium. But I don’t think that was the problem of the crash.

“I don’t know why, I did Turn 11 slower to breathe a bit. And then when I arrived to the second last corner I crashed. It’s very difficult to understand and I’m a bit angry now.”


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