After a positive season start, Pecco’s 2020 came to a halt after just two races when he fractured his tibia in Brno and was forced to miss three races.
Bagnaia returned to the track and thanks to some positive performances (and his undeniable talent), he was able to secure a place on the Ducati factory team, along with his team-mate Jack Miller, replacing the current official riders who now look to a new future (with Andrea Dovizioso having opted to take a sabbatical year).
The contract signed, Pecco has suffered from performance anxiety and the classic pressure that a young rider like him might feel. His last three races have been ones to forget, the Italian scoring three consecutive zeros.
The Misano "double"
As the championship got underway at Jerez, Bagnaia immediately realised that he was quick and able to fight at the sharp end.
A technical issue with the bike (sustained during the second Spanish race) forced him to retire while lying second and chasing Frenchman Quartararo. A stroke of bad luck that he could have done without and that was set to continue, seeing as the very next weekend Pecco sustained an injury at Brno.
There were high expectations on his return, both on the part of the fans and the factory team. The results came, and quickly.
At Misano he showed his stuff right from free practice and come Sunday he put in a fantastic performance to reach the second step of the rostrum, alongside fellow countryman Morbidelli, who dominated the race. A result that spurred Pecco on, but that also saw him commit a mistake for which he paid dearly the very next Sunday. Leading the race, and followed by Vinales, Bagnaia crashed at turn 6 just seven laps frm the end, compromising what had been an impeccable race with a trivial mistake.
Since Misano, and since signing for 2021, his season has turned into something of an uphill climb. His results have dropped off and, as of now, don’t bode well for a positive end to the season.
Ducati, present and future
But Pecco cannot be blamed for all this. In recent races, Ducati has appeared to have lost its way, the expected results failing to materialise, Dovizioso in increasing difficulty, and any chance of championship success now lost. The atmosphere in the garage is not the best and there is tension, rather than the peace and harmony needed to work effectively. This impacts on all the riders and Pecco, also under psychological pressure, is making too many mistakes, with three consecutive DNFs.
The VR46 rider is not experiencing the most positive present, but the future appears to smile on him, and so Pecco is focusing on that, in the hope that the Borgo Panigale team can find its way and prepare a competitive bike with which the riders can fully express themselves and regularly fight for the podium.
Without serenity, there’s no feeling
The same applies to Quartararo, in difficulty and ever further from the title. If Bagnaia wants to win a race he obviously needs a competitive bike, but he also needs to be at peace with himself. We all know how fast Pecco can be, and he too presumably knows how talented he is – he’s often proved this on track – but he’s never exploited this 100%, to achieve the kind of results a rider like him would expect.
What he’s currently lacking is serenity and, as a result, he is unable to find the right feeling with the bike on track. He is showing effort and commitment, yes, but he is also making mistakes. But Pecco is still young, and still has time to grow together with his Desmosedici.
He’s been looking to the future for a while already, perhaps almost forgetting to focus on the present. It’s time for Francesco to try and change pace. Because if he doesn’t, he will find it very tough to wear the clothes of a factory rider, clothes that are tight and in which the pressure is doubled if compared to his current situation. He must focus on giving his absolute best, else this temporary crisis will continue and will risk compromising his 2021 season too.
His future is written. Now he must set himself just one goal: to finish this year’s championship with strong results, so as to start 2021 in the best possible way.