The MotoGP summer break is coming to an end, and we’ll soon be back racing with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 7th.
It’s been a top campaign so far with plenty of surprises and twists, but it’s Fabio Quartararo who has stayed true to form to lead the standings at this stage.
Behind him is Aleix Espargaro, the man who has shocked so many with his performances so far this year, and the man who seems quite possibly the only rider who could stop Quartararo winning a second premier class title.
Ahead of Silverstone, then, Give Me Sport caught up with the team at BT Sport to get their thoughts on some of the talking points of the campaign so far and, here, we’re taking a look at Pecco Bagnaia and where it appears to have gone wrong so far this year:
SCARPERIA, ITALY – MAY 29: Francesco Bagnaia of Italy and Ducati Lenovo Team rounds the bend during the MotoGP Race during the MotoGP of Italy – Race at Mugello Circuit on May 29, 2022 in Scarperia, Italy. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
“Do you know what, it’s a question that he’ll be asking right now.
“I’m sure Ducati are asking that question right now. You look at the season going into the second half and unless Fabio has a meltdown, which I can’t see him doing, it’s done.
“All I can say is looking back at how the season started it just seemed like they focused too much in the limited pre-season on bike development as opposed to getting a baseline on the bike, so every time they went testing they were like ‘ try this, try that’ as opposed to saying ‘this is the bike, let’s perfect it,’ but there’s not a lot of pre-season testing so I think that was their mistake.
“[It looks like panic mode set in after Qatar,] because they were struggling all that weekend, then he crashes in the race and then it’s like panic mode, you could see it couldn’t you and it took like until his first win for them to go ‘no if we can become consistent and win some races we’ll be alright.’
“He needs to realize that when he’s not on it, when it’s not quite happening, what is the issue, what is happening and what’s going through your head at that time, which I’m sure they’ll be working on with a sports psychologist, but if you look at how far behind in the championship he was if he’d scored ten points instead of those crashes he’d be closer.”
“Unfortunately for Pecco, Ducati bringing that new bike interrupted his pre-season.
“I do think that disrupted him and Fabio stole a little bit of a march and then you’re trying to claw back and then there’s a little bit of desperation and a few mistakes on his part that cost him really in terms of point.
“He’s not a million miles away in the championship with nine rounds left so you wouldn’t rule him out
of making a bit of tilt now if he gets into his stride at Silverstone and Austria.
“I think Fabio on current form is going to be hard to get inside his head. I do feel for Pecco because I think everyone sees him as this clinical rider that doesn’t make mistakes but he has made a few mistakes
this year and the microscope is on him but I do believe in his talent.
“I think there’s a big part of [the favourite tag affecting him] because the psychology of entering a season as a favorite just changes everything so all of a sudden you’ve got pressure on your shoulders, you’ve got the might of Ducati and how much they’ve been spending since Casey Stoner last won for them and they’ve been looking to emulate that and now they have a rider and a bike that is capable of doing that.
“So for an Italian with an Italian manufacturer that’s a huge dream and I do think that pressure has crept in.
“We never see him lash out in public and he doesn’t speak badly to the press – he’s been the consummate professional, but I do think he’s felt the pressure this year a little bit.”
“I think the disappointment has been Ducati, going into the season we expected Pecco to be equal favorite with Fabio but it didn’t materialize early doors and then at the critical moments they haven’t delivered and that’s left the championship in Fabio’s hands going into part two.
“It’s his to lose completely, you never know what’s going to happen but he’s outperformed himself and flattered the Yamaha.”
BARCELONA, SPAIN – JUNE 04: Francesco Bagnaia of Italy and Ducati Lenovo Team rounds the bend during the MotoGP qualifying practice during the MotoGP of Catalunya – Qualifying at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 04, 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
“Coming into this season I thought Pecco was the one to beat and especially with what Fabio was saying about his bike and I think Fabio has alluded to it that he’s perhaps doing better with it than he thought and Ducati have not done as well as we thought they were going to do.”
“I wouldn’t put it completely at Pecco’s door. I believe that they ended on such a high in 2021 with a bike that was working fantastically well and what happened was Ducati thought they had their ’21 bike and they’ve tried to build on it which is what you do and it looks to me where it’s gone wrong is they’ve introduced too much and not enough testing time to bed it all in.
“The fact that Bastianini was winning on last year’s package bears that out for me and the fact that
Pecco had to deal with modifications between tests, the bike wasn’t dialed in and it wasn’t until Europe where Pecco said in Portimao where he had the crash and started from the back of the grid that he found something click and they’d found the setting so that’s where it’s gone wrong.
“Since then he’s actually been playing catch up, it is all or nothing and he’s had misfortune. What happened in Barca was unlucky but he’s had his own mistakes as well so I wouldn’t lay it all on Pecco’s door personally, I think he’s a fantastic rider, I think he can be the most consistent as he showed in Moto2 but ever since the start of the season he has been playing catch up. you have to take it almost beyond the limit to get the points back so it’s a shame because we were set up for a really good head-to-head between two young exciting rides but instead Fabio has Aleix to contend with.”
BT Sport is the home of MotoGP. Catch all the action from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone live on BT Sport on August 7. For more info go to bt.com/sport/motogp.
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