Bautista made his MotoGP return at the Sepang International Circuit last weekend for a wildcard appearance with Ducati, having recently wrapped up his second WSBK crown.
Having not competed in a MotoGP round since the 2018 Valencia GP, when he rode a year-old Aspar-run Ducati, Bautista struggled – qualifying second-to-last, finishing 22nd in the sprint and 17th in the grand prix.
But speaking after the grand prix, Bautista says a crash in a Superbike test at Jerez prior to his wildcard meant he had “no power” on the left side of his body, which affected his performance.
“I have to confess that I had a problem all weekend but I didn’t want to accept it. I told it to my team yesterday afternoon, after the race,” Bautista revealed.
“In the Jerez test, after the last race [of the WSBK season], I had a very ugly crash. I crashed with my head and had some pain in my neck, but no more problems and the mobility was good.
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“Then I came here and from Friday, I started to feel no power in the left, and especially in the left corners.
“I worked a lot with [MotoGP medical partner] Quiron health, but it was every time a bit worse and worse.
“For sure I didn’t ride as I wanted, and I’m so angry with myself because I cannot enjoy and I cannot push really good.
“In fact, my team watching the data from Friday always told me that I was really good on the first braking, in the right corners, but in the left braking I was losing almost one second. ‘But why?’. I told them maybe confidence, but the reality is that I couldn’t push.
“With this bike, you really have to force it on the braking, and I lose some power there. I am a bit frustrated with this, not with the result but because I cannot ride like my maximum.”
Bautista also noted that modern MotoGP bikes are much harder to control for a rider due to the increase in aerodynamics and ride height devices from when he last raced in the series.
When asked by Autosport what he felt had changed in the five years since he last rode a MotoGP bike, he said: “I don’t remember, my last races in MotoGP I wasn’t too [far] back, so I had less riders in front of me.
“But for sure you had more chance to control the bike in the past.
“Now with more aerodynamics, the bike is more difficult, heavier to move, and also the problem I had in the first lap [in the sprint, when I ran off] is that with all the aerodynamics, if you don’t have the help of the wing, then you are lost.
“You can’t brake the bike, the bike doesn’t make the right position.
“So, for sure it’s very different. Seems like in the past the rider had more control of the situation. So, for me, it was better, the older bikes.”