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MotoGP champion Bagnaia accepts criticism of fraught season

MotoGP world champion Francesco Bagnaia says he accepts the criticisms he faced across 2022 for mistakes he made on and off-track, but says “without mistakes you can’t grow”.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Ducati rider Bagnaia suffered four DNFs in the first 10 races of the 2022 season, three of which his own crashes, which led to him slipping 91 points off championship leader Fabio Quartararo at the midway point of the year.

The Italian rallied in the second half of the season, winning six times to add to his total haul of seven to overturn his deficit. Despite registering a fifth DNF in Japan, he ended Ducati’s 15-year title drought at the final round of the campaign in Valencia.

As Bagnaia faced criticism for his on-track errors, in the summer break he was put under further pressure when he was involved in a drink/driving incident in Ibiza.

When asked by Motorsport.com following his title win in Valencia if he felt the criticisms he faced in 2022 were fair, Bagnaia responded: “I think everyone can have his point of view and everyone can say what they think.

“So, I accepted some guys don’t want to cheer for me because they prefer another rider. I can understand.

“I can also say they were saying the truth, because when you start the season with the pressure of winning you have to demonstrate that you have this possibility to be world champion and I was losing a lot of races because I was crashing and making a lot of mistakes.

“For sure, the start of the year this was not [an easy] situation because our bike was not working so well and it takes a lot of time to improve.

“But already in Portimao I did a big mistake in Q1, I almost broke my collarbone and it was a difficult race. Then in Jerez we did an incredible race, it was the key to be competitive again and then in Le Mans I crashed again in a stupid way."

PRIME:
Francesco Bagnaia ended Ducati’s 15-year title drought in 2022.

Francesco Bagnaia ended Ducati’s 15-year title drought in 2022.

Photo by: FIM

He added: "We had bad luck in Barcelona, but [not in] the race in Sachsenring because I was there and I tried to follow Fabio.

“I didn’t need to approach the race in that way, because I was sure in the second half of the race the hard tyre would have been better.

"After all those mistakes it’s normal to receive some criticism, so I accept that. I accept also when I had my mistakes during the summer in Ibiza, I accepted everything.

“I try to improve myself every time and mistakes can happen, unfortunately. But without mistakes you can’t grow.”

Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti says Bagnaia showed clear remorse for his Ibiza incident.

"We are all human beings and we make mistakes, and if we learn the lesson I think we must give credit to someone who in his private life has always been respectful," Ciabatti said.

"The worst thing is if you make a mistake and think ‘this time, nobody got me and I will do again’.

“This was not the case. We had a clear conversation with Pecco about it, he was the first one to feel super sorry about it and he learned the lesson.

“So, I think making one mistake is acceptable if you understand it’s something that shouldn’t happen anymore. If it happens twice, it’s a different story.”

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