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Bagnaia “f****d up” by not considering fuel load in Portugal MotoGP sprint error

MotoGP championship leader Francesco Bagnaia “f****d up” by not considering the impact a changing fuel load had on his bike under braking during the Portuguese Grand Prix sprint.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Bagnaia was in a dominant position in Saturday’s 12-lap sprint having taken the lead at the end of lap two, before pulling out a gap of just over a second at one stage.

But, while almost a second clear of the rest, Bagnaia outbraked himself into Turn 1 on lap nine and dropped to fourth, where he would remain to the chequered flag.

Explaining what happened, Bagnaia said he didn’t consider the change in fuel load that was already having an effect on the way his GP24 was braking as the race went on and didn’t adjust his stopping distance accordingly.

“I f****d up,” Bagnaia began. “I was finally having a good feeling, starting well, attacking, managing the gap, opening a gap and managing the gap.

“So, everything was perfect. But I didn’t consider the fact that the fuel was consuming and the first corner is a bit strange because the downhill makes the rear go up and up.

“And after four, five laps I started to feel that the rear was always a bit higher and I was braking always the same.

“So, I just tried to avoid the crash going wide, but I lost everything. From that moment I just tried to finish the race and having much more points as possible.

“For sure, it was better to win because it’s a long time that I was feeling like this in a sprint race.

“This kind of mistake does not help but we have to take the positives and see that, again, we were able to fight in the sprint race on a soft rear tyre that was not too much [to my liking].”

Bagnaia added that the rear of the GP24 on braking “is a bit more nervous” than last year’s bike, but this doesn’t excuse him from not reacting to it as he should have. 

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

His error capped off a bad day for the factory Ducati team, after poleman and team-mate Enea Bastianini finished sixth after accidentally disengaging his front start device on the grid.

The top factory-spec Ducati at the chequered flag was Pramac’s Jorge Martin in third, but he had to battle once again with vibration issues on the rear of his bike.

“Well, I don’t know what to say because I struggled all weekend with the soft,” Martin said.

“So, for sure I thought I was going to be able to battle for the victory. I tried it, but I couldn’t make that move on [winner] Maverick [Vinales].

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“I struggled a lot, I had a lot of rear vibrations again. I didn’t have it yesterday, I didn’t have it this morning, but today [in the sprint] I had it a lot.

“But today for sure we were pushing too much into the rear tyre and we were having these problems. Every lap it was worse and I couldn’t make this move on Maverick.

“So, I think my position was really conditioned by not making that move.

“If not, I think I was a bit stronger to pull away. But it is what it is. Tomorrow with the medium with which I feel more confident, [I will] try to have a more stable bike.”

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