After finishing second in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, Bagnaia now leads the championship by two points from Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo – who slipped to 13th in the race due to an arm-pump issue.
Bagnaia’s points tally of 66 so far in 2021 is 19 more than the 47 he managed throughout last season with Pramac, the 24-year-old the only rider to have finished on the podium at three rounds this year.
Despite his upturn in from on the factory Ducati, Bagnaia admits he still has to take things race by race and not get too wrapped up in thoughts of the championship just now.
“I’m happy to be the championship leader,” Bagnaia said.
“I have to realise it and don’t think about it because we have 16 races in front and we have to continue like this.
“I think if I start to think about the championship after four races I’ll start to be slower, so I have to think race by race and see what will happen.
“We had the luck to see Fabio struggle, because if he was not struggling he was winning the race because his pace was incredible and he was dominant all weekend.
“But in any case, to win a championship you also have to have luck.
“I’m happy but we have to think just race by race and we now arrive in circuits we like.”
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Bagnaia put some pressure on race-winning team-mate Jack Miller in the latter stages of Sunday’s race, though says he came close to crashing two laps from the end and thought it better “to calm down” at that point.
“I think this result is better than Portimao [where he also finished second], because in Portimao we arrived with the same bike as Qatar and everything was working well,” he added.
“This time we had to work a lot on bike and my feeling with it was incredible. I was feeling great with everything.
“I just struggled a bit at the start because I was thinking pushing with the rear tyre would have been difficult to finish the race.
“But I’ve seen that Jack, Fabio, all the other riders were pushing a lot at the start. Then I saw my pace was good, I tried to recover positions, I tried to close the gap to Jack.
“But I took some risk with the front, I lost it with two laps to go at Turn 7 and was better to be calm and finish the race. Today was the day of Jack, he deserves this race.
“To finish 1-2 in a track like this for sure gives us a motivation to arrive at tracks where our bike works better.”