Valentino Rossi says he has been surprised by how hard to ride the Ducati turned out to be, but is confident the problems can be resolved.
The Italian, who added that he would be "happy to finish in the top five" in the season opener in Qatar, said his early worries about the scale of the task ahead at Ducati were fading even though there was still work to do.
"I must be honest, in the beginning I was worried," Rossi told Gazzetta dello Sport. "Maybe I'll regret what I'm about to say, but I must confess that I had thought this bike was easier to ride. Instead the beginning was tough. However, I'm not as worried now, because the Ducati people are happy to work with me, they trust me and I think we'll be able to improve the situation."
He suggested that he would not be confident of victory in Qatar even if he had stayed with Yamaha, such as the Honda's superiority at present.
"I would be worried anyway, because Honda today is quicker than Ducati and Yamaha," Rossi said. "I would probably be faster since I know that bike, but under more pressure, because it's the world champion bike. With Ducati it's a more difficult challenge, we need some time."
The former champion is also still troubled by pain from the shoulder surgery he had over the winter. He is equally confident that this problem can be resolved with time, even though it curtailed his final test day earlier this week.
"I lost all the power [in the shoulder] and could not ride, so we stopped without finishing the test," Rossi explained in a news conference at Losail today. "But the shoulder is just a question of time. I worked all the winter, every day, to be as fit as possible for the first race. I think I need another one or two months to come back to 100 percent."