First match point for Francesco Bagnaia! The MotoGP world championship could see its epilogue this weekend in Qatar where the Ducati rider has a small chance of winning the world crown against Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac).
The reigning Italian world champion and his Spanish competitor, whom he is ahead of by 14 points while there are 74 left to distribute, including 37 this weekend, should still engage in a tough battle during the events which will be contested in night on the Lusail circuit.
Whatever happens, the Turinese will not be able to be crowned on Saturday during the sprint, and to be crowned on Sunday, he will have to finish the weekend with at least 37 points ahead of the Madrilenian, i.e. full of points. .
The fight has been so close for several weeks that the world title could well be decided next week in Valencia, during the traditional closing event of the season, as was the case in 2022.
“I don’t consider this weekend as a first match point,” Bagnaia said at a press conference. “Jorge (Martin, Editor’s note) is doing a very good job so I think it won’t play out here. The most important thing will be to take each test session and each race one after the other like at Sepang last weekend and try to always be competitive.
“I don’t know anything about math, I just know I need to close the gap to Pecco! I will try to gain as many points as possible during the two races of the weekend and I think that I will go to Valencia with still a chance of winning the title,” Martin told journalists.
The only thing that is certain is that the pressure will be at its peak because the slightest mistake could cost both drivers dearly, but even more so for Martin who failed to get closer to Bagnaia in Malaysia.
“Obviously, I feel the pressure because we can't make a mistake otherwise we lose the championship so it will be a complicated weekend. I'm a little far away at the moment so I hope to pick up some points. We won’t be able to afford to make bets,” explained the Spaniard.
Bagnaia's teammate in the official Ducati team, the Italian Enea Bastianini, winner of his first Grand Prix of the season last Sunday at Sepang, could well be the referee of the announced duel. And he will not hesitate to lend a helping hand to his compatriot if necessary.
“If the opportunity presents itself, of course I will help Pecco,” he said Thursday.
The main unknown of the weekend for the pilots and engineers will be the performance of the tires on a circuit which has been resurfaced since the last time the motorcycles passed at the start of 2022.
“New asphalt can change everything. It will be interesting and tricky at the same time. New asphalt means more grip and it will be hotter than usual when we come to March so we have a big question about the tires,” explained Bagnaia.
“For me the tires will be the key so we will have to understand the situation quickly and well. It can be a good opportunity to gain points, but also to lose them. So you’ll really have to be smart,” said Martin, whose daring choice of soft tires in Australia at the end of October cost him the victory.
Unlike the Formula 1 Grand Prix held on the same circuit in early October, the heat should not be a problem for the drivers, especially as they arrive from Malaysia where it was hot and humid.
The temperature does not exceed 30 degrees, ten less than during the F1 weekend where many drivers suffered from the intense heat and some even felt unwell when getting out of their car at the end of the race. Sunday Grand Prix.