Ducati boss Davide Tardozzi has apologized to 2021 MotoGP runner-up Pecco Bagnaia after a disastrous Qatar Grand Prix opening weekend.
Pre-season title favorite Bagnaia didn’t just drop out of the race, but took fellow Ducati racer Jorge Martin with him in the process.
However, despite admitting that the crash itself was the fault of overtaking the bike, Bagnaia was quick to blame the whole bad weekend not on himself but on the how Ducati has prepared it for the season.
He said there was too much focus on development testing and not enough on finding a way for him to be comfortable on what on the face of it was not a new spec. radically different 2022 bike.
It has become increasingly clear that this is not the case under the skin, however, with a dramatic return to the engine’s first hybrid test spec rather than the full 2022 one at the Lusail race this weekend.
And, with that change and others, Bagnaia had no doubts about what was wrong with him heading into the season-opening race.
“In the past, it wasn’t like that,” he explained. “You had satellite teams, independent teams, working more on these things.
“I am not a tester. I am here to win. I’m here to focus on driving in the best way possible, and looking at the testing, we only had five days and we should use that for testing, not the race weekend.
“If we decide to work like this, it will obviously be more difficult to achieve results like last year.
“I really need to focus on adapting my riding style to the bike, and right now I feel like I’m back to being like last year but I still wasn’t ready. for the race.
“The set-up was not good for the track, the electronics were not good. We weren’t ready.
“I know the job of a factory rider is to work, but if we want to win we have to be more focused on me during the race weekend.
“I asked to work like we did last year, because in Austria we decided on a set-up and from then on I didn’t touch anything on the bike, I just focused on myself.
“They can give us something better, but if we don’t have time to adapt to it, we can’t go any faster.”
That’s a bold statement for a factory rider to make to his team, especially after just one bad weekend in the season opener.
But it didn’t arouse any anger from Ducati’s management.
Speaking then exclusively to The Race, Ducati team manager Tardozzi, rather than being angry with his rider for his comments, instead issued an apology.
He admitted that Ducati got it wrong in the preparation for the race and that his job now was to build the environment and that the Bagnaia bike had to get back to the winning ways of 2021.
“What happened was not acceptable, and that’s something we have to think about,” World Superbike race winner Tardozzi admitted to The Race.
“We have to understand it and do a self-criticism to try to recover all the problems.
“I think we made mistakes and it can’t happen a second time.”
Asked about Bagnaia’s comments that Ducati had focused too much on development testing, Tardozzi replied: “It’s possible. We trust Pecco 100%, and we think he will be our rider for the next three years so we have to trust him.
“He’s a very, very good team player and a very fast rider, so we think if we give him what he deserves – focus, a bike that allows him to ride smoothly – then he will be at the top in every race.
“It was our fault, not Pecco’s.”
Ducati still won the race with its old bike, thanks to Enea Bastianini and the Gresini team.
Bagnaia’s teammate Jack Miller had to retire from his bike after suffering a loss of power from the start.