There are two types of races at Mugello: either a rider has their bike dialed in better than the rest, and they disappear off into the distance from the start; or a group of riders on different bikes find a way to exploit their strengths at different points around the track, and they end up battling from start to finish.
On Sunday, we got the second type of race. Five riders on three different bikes slugged it out for 23 laps, no one able to make a decisive break, despite several riders trying. Each bike had its own strengths and weaknesses, but those differences equaled out over a complete lap, leaving all five on more or less the same lap time. The race was decided on the final lap, by a brave and desperate move, which came off.
The race underlined once again what a fantastic track Mugello can be. It has a range of corners and a very fast straight, and the contrasts between the bikes were stark. The Ducatis could use their top speed along the straight, but also their ability in braking and in holding a line. Alex Rins used the agility and corner speed of the Suzuki to make good any ground lost on the straight to the Ducatis and the Honda. Marc Márquez used the power of the 2019 Honda engine to match the Ducatis on the straight, and the bike's strength on corner entry to hold off the Ducatis, and not lose too much to the Suzuki.
Is Mugello a Ducati track? Danilo Petrucci's victory makes it three wins in a row for Ducati at the Italian circuit, and the second time an Italian riding an Italian bike had won the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello. But it was also the third year in a row that Ducati had had two bikes on the podium: Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci in 2017; Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso in 2018; and Petrucci and Dovizioso again in 2019.
But it wasn't just the factory bikes this year. Jack Miller was in podium contention for most of the race, until he made a small mistake trying to pass Alex Rins with eight laps to go, and crashed out of the race. Pecco Bagnaia had a strong race until half distance, when he, too, crashed out.
They were two very different types of crashes. Miller slid out when he thought he saw a chance to get past Alex Rins. "I wanted to pass him in Turn 1 but it was going to be a little bit hairy that lap," the Australian said, "so I knew I had a little bit of time on my side, so I just planned it to be patient. And yeah, he just had a big lateral slide on the entry to Turn 4, where I crashed. So as he had that slide, he sort of lifted the rear first up, so I braked a little bit harder in a straight line. And then I thought he was going to run it a little bit wide and lose the momentum on the exit, so I was going to be able to square it and drive underneath him there. But as I released the brakes, I released them a little bit earlier, and there was obviously a little bit too much lean angle with it, and that was enough to just upset it. I tried to hold it as much as I could on the elbow, but it wasn't to be today. It's a real shame. Gutted for the team, home Grand Prix for us. It's a tough one, but we showed we had great potential again, it's just a shame it ended up like this today."
Bagnaia's crash was more of a rookie mistake, and perhaps a result of riding a GP18, rather than a GP19. "When I crashed it was because I was exiting Turn 15 not so fast and I had to brake so hard to recover a bit of the gap," the Pramac Ducati rider said. "I was a little bit wide and when I tried to close the line I crashed." He got out onto the dirty part of the track, and found it had less grip than he had expected.
Getting the holeshot
Perhaps Ducati's holeshot device played a part in Ducati's success on Sunday. Petrucci did not get a fantastic start from the front row, losing a couple of places off the line. But he lost them to two fellow Ducatis, Andrea Dovizioso coming through from ninth on the grid to come up to third, and Jack Miller getting past the two Petronas Yamahas on the front two rows to take fourth.
How good was Dovizioso's start? Judge for yourself. The Italian posted a video of his start on Twitter, show below:
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