MotoGP points leader Pecco Bagnaia and rival Maverick Vinales have calmed down and made peace in the aftermath of their French Grand Prix crash, despite a heated argument in the gravel trap in the immediate aftermath.
Vinales had lunged past Bagnaia for third place at the S curve, and was ahead coming through the first part, the Turn 11 right-hander.
But he was just wide enough on entry for Bagnaia to draw alongside as they exited the corner and approached the Turn 12 left-hander. And, as Vinales aggressively shifted his weight in preparation for taking said Turn 12, he and Bagnaia made hard contact.
This unsettled Vinales’ Aprilia RS-GP massively and, going straight on, it hit Bagnaia again, the Italian going down hard after that second impact – while Vinales sped through the gravel, eventually forced to chuck the bike down with the wall approaching fast.
With Bagnaia still lying on the ground and though clearly conscious, appearing in pain, Vinales rushed to him to make his displeasure known, which immediately escalated into a proper row as Bagnaia got up on his feet.
In the process of getting up, Bagnaia gave Vinales a shove and they continued to argue at one another – although in the end they took a ride to the paddock on the same scooter and seemed to squash things upon arrival with a handshake.
HOW THEY SAW THE CRASH
IT'S ALL GONE WRONG! 😱
Maverick has a HUGE moment and takes both himself and @PeccoBagnaia OUT of the race! 💥#FrenchGP 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/6QRLMrr3PS
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) May 14, 2023
“It’s a shame because I passed him very clean and then… my point of view is that he could leave a little bit more space in this change of direction,” said Vinales.
“But it’s a shame because we both take a zero, on a weekend where we felt with a lot of potential.
“I didn’t know where the other rider was. I didn’t know. I think he could see me a little bit when he changed direction.
“But it’s always complicated, you have a lot of points of view. I think the stewards need to decide but at the end for me it’s a racing incident, it’s nothing else than that.”
“From my point of view, he overtook me, very clean, but was a bit wide,” recalled Bagnaia.
“I was on the inside on my line, and when he came back, he just tried to have his normal line. But I was there!
“Maybe I could manage better, maybe I had to close the gas – or maybe he had to consider that I was there. So, it was unlucky circumstances.”
Vinales said that it was crucial to maintain “respect” and that he and Bagnaia were among “the cleanest in the racing lines”. Bagnaia, for his part, offered almost exactly the same view.
“One thing that makes me smile is that it happened to two of the cleanest riders on the grid,” he said. “It can happen to everybody.”
Bagnaia said he was “angry” but made it clear the anger wasn’t aimed at Vinales, but rather at the fact that he had been pacing himself in the pack, backing out of a possible move on Marc Marquez up ahead, and left himself in the firing line by biding his time.
“Not angry with Maverick,” he stressed, before admitting: “I didn’t like the reaction. Because… was a bit too aggressive.
“But for me, when you are with the adrenaline, can happen. When you crash, hit by a rider, or when you crash because you hit a rider, you’re more angry. Because you feel you just ruined a race or other rider ruined your race.
“So I’m not angry with him. I consider this unlucky circumstance. A racing incident. I’m not angry with him.”
“Emotions, adrenaline,” said Vinales. “Especially I was very angry because I had the potential to win the race. So I was very upset, I was very angry with him. Because in this moment I was with the adrenaline.
“But after that, we move on, we shake hands. We know that this is racing and we need to have respect between the riders.”
THE STEWARDS’ VISIT
Bagnaia – who had a medical centre visit after the collision for an unspecified reason but was declared fit – also paid a visit to the stewards, as the incident had been placed under investigation.
And he said he’d asked the stewards to bring Vinales in, too.
“I asked to call Maverick, because I think we have to improve on that, we have to speak with the two riders that committed the mistakes, have to speak to each other to share points of view.
“Like I was expecting, at the start [of the conversation] was different, me and him were in the opposite way [regarding the crash].
“But when we finished the meeting we were in the same point of view.
“That [a discussion] is something that has to happen, always.”