The reigning world champion heads into this weekend’s final round of the 2023 season 21 points clear of rival Jorge Martin, after the latter struggled to 10th in the Qatar Grand Prix with a tyre issue.
Bagnaia can secure the 2023 title in the sprint race on Saturday in Valencia if he outscores Martin by at least four points.
It echoes the situation he faced last year coming into the Valencia finale battling Fabio Quartararo for the championship, with Bagnaia leading the Frenchman by 23 points.
But he concedes that the challenge he faces now is tougher, not least against a rider in Martin who is on identical machinery.
“It’s for sure the hardest one, also because I made many mistakes this season and we arrive in a situation where I can have many more points but with as many mistakes as I did, we arrive now still in the battle,” said Bagnaia, who also fought for and won the 2018 Moto2 title.
“And fighting against a rider who is so strong and so energetic when he is on track in time attack or sprint race is not easy, considering also that he has my bike and we can share data.
“So, for sure, compared to last year it’s much, much harder and I think we are managing well the situation considering every Sunday we are very strong.
Photo by: MotoGP
Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team, Fabio Di Giannantonio, Gresini Racing
“For sure, for Valencia, I will need to improve a lot the feeling on Saturday.”
Bagnaia admits he will arrive in Valencia with a similar feeling of nerves as he did last year, but believes the best way to approach the weekend will be to treat it as he would treat a normal round.
“Honestly, the best way to race and not be affected by the pressure is just to think on doing the maximum – just focus on doing the best race possible,” he added.
“And last year honestly I suffered a lot in Valencia, even if I was with 23 points of gap.
“So, I think that I will arrive in Valencia more or less in the same situation, but already prepared on what will happened.
“The thing that worries me more in this moment is the weather, because 26 November in Valencia you will never know what will happen.
“Honestly, we are in the best position possible. We are in front with 21 points and Jorge will have to push a lot, and we can manage a bit.
“But starting to think about managing is not the best way to deal with the pressure. So, we will need to focus on doing the same strategy, same routine as a normal weekend.”