Bagnaia doesn't feel like Ducati MotoGP number two rider

Francesco Bagnaia says Ducati has not made him feel like a number two rider in its factory MotoGP squad, despite team-mate Jack Miller being tipped as an early title favourite.

Bagnaia doesn't feel like Ducati MotoGP number two rider

Ducati has refreshed its factory line-up for 2021, bringing in former Pramac pair Miller and Bagnaia to replace the ousted Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.

Miller ended pre-season testing fastest of all with an unofficial lap record in Qatar of 1m53.183s, while 2018 Moto2 champion Bagnaia was just 0.281s behind him in fifth.

Many in the MotoGP paddock have already pegged Miller as one of the main threats to Joan Mir’s crown in 2021, a tag Miller says he enjoys, but Bagnaia notes this isn’t reflected in how he is being treated within Ducati.

The Italian scored a first podium last season with second at Misano, his first race back after recovering from a broken leg sustained in a crash at Brno, but had a scrappy end to the season as he crashed out in four of the final five races.

“I’m feeling at the same level of Jack inside of the team,” Bagnaia said following testing in Qatar.

“I don’t feel that he is in front of me in the line of Ducati.

“For sure for the result he has done last year in the last races, for sure he will start with more pressure maybe.

“But Ducati never made me feel like I’m second in this team at the moment.”

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

When asked for his expectations for his first season as a factory MotoGP rider, Bagnaia said he is targeting top five finishes, noting that his modest predictions are a result of his difficult end to 2020.

“Looking at my final races of last year, I prefer to say that the top five will be my objective because I finished the season struggling a lot and I prefer to remain thinking on the top five and not for more,” he explained.

“So, my pace is very good, so I say top five, but we will see during the weekend.”

Bagnaia says he has “never felt so good” with his Ducati despite the changes to the GP21 being minimal over last year’s bike, which he was also quick on at the start of the campaign.

PLUS: What we learned from MotoGP pre-season testing in 2021

Explaining where his gains have come from, Bagnaia said: “My feeling with the bike is really high, maybe higher than last year when I was fast because I’m making things easier compared to last year.

“This test of last year was good for me, but this year I improved the pace by a second faster, and also my lap time of the time attack was as second faster. Also, I made a step with the confidence on the bike.

“I know that it’s very similar to the bike of last year, but I improved a lot maybe my riding style and my feeling with the bike.

"I’m very happy at this moment, because I’ve never felt so good with this bike.”

shares
comments
Can leaving a factory team end Rossi’s MotoGP victory drought?

Previous article

Can leaving a factory team end Rossi’s MotoGP victory drought?

Next article

Why a MotoGP legend needs to ditch social media and enjoy retirement

Why a MotoGP legend needs to ditch social media and enjoy retirement
Load comments

About this article

Series MotoGP
Drivers Francesco Bagnaia
Teams Ducati Team
Author Lewis Duncan
The "pit bull" MotoGP rookie already drawing legendary comparisons Plus

The "pit bull" MotoGP rookie already drawing legendary comparisons

MotoGP’s 2021 rookie crop is one of the strongest in recent years, but one is already standing out. Jorge Martin’s Doha GP heroics have courted many to compare him to numerous MotoGP legends. Autosport spoke to Pramac boss Francesco Guidotti to find out why MotoGP’s latest Spanish star is already making such an impact

MotoGP
Apr 9, 2021
Why MotoGP's stewards must revisit Miller and Mir's Losail clash Plus

Why MotoGP's stewards must revisit Miller and Mir's Losail clash

Despite Suzuki’s decision not to appeal against Race Direction’s refusal to penalise Jack Miller following the incident with Joan Mir in Losail, something must be done to avoid a repeat of such an incident, which could have easily ended in tragedy

MotoGP
Apr 6, 2021
Has Yamaha banished its demons with its 2021 MotoGP bike? Plus

Has Yamaha banished its demons with its 2021 MotoGP bike?

Against the expected run of play at Qatar's Losail circuit, both Yamaha riders Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo carved through a resolute Ducati defence to secure back-to-back MotoGP wins for the Japanese marque. After a difficult 2020, it appears that Yamaha has swaggered back into championship contention

MotoGP
Apr 5, 2021
Why MotoGP’s top gun looks more dangerous at the Doha GP Plus

Why MotoGP’s top gun looks more dangerous at the Doha GP

Lightning hasn't struck twice for Maverick Vinales since 2017 and his wayward form of recent years makes predicting how he'll fare each MotoGP race weekend tricky. But fresh from his Qatar GP win, Vinales looks like an even more dangerous prospect for the Doha GP following an intriguing Friday practice

MotoGP
Apr 3, 2021
Why MotoGP’s new Amazon series is long overdue Plus

Why MotoGP’s new Amazon series is long overdue

OPINION: MotoGP is getting its own version of Drive to Survive on Amazon Prime at some point in the near future. It was news welcomed by the grid’s leading riders. And following the impact DTS has had on Formula 1, MotoGP desperately needs the same boost.

MotoGP
Mar 31, 2021
Did the Qatar GP hint at Ducati’s true MotoGP leader? Plus

Did the Qatar GP hint at Ducati’s true MotoGP leader?

OPINION: Johann Zarco talked a big game pre-season, and is so far vindicating himself as a factory rider at Pramac after finishing the Qatar GP as top Ducati in second. And contrasting his and Jack Miller's weekends and their approaches, is Zarco emerging as Ducati's true MotoGP leader?

MotoGP
Mar 30, 2021
The key changes behind the latest 'return of the Mack' Plus

The key changes behind the latest 'return of the Mack'

Maverick Vinales’s authoritative victory at the MotoGP season opener came during a period of personal and professional change for the Yamaha rider. Can it be the springboard for a title challenge?

MotoGP
Mar 29, 2021
The past clues which hint at the MotoGP order in Qatar Plus

The past clues which hint at the MotoGP order in Qatar

The MotoGP season kicks off this weekend in Qatar - two years after it last visited the Losail circuit for a race weekend as last season's round was called off. As ever, the pecking order is difficult to map out at this early stage of the season, but perhaps the 2019 race offers some clues as to how things might shake out...

MotoGP
Mar 27, 2021