Valentino Rossi said continued pain from the shoulder he injured last year was a bigger factor than bike performance in his low-key seventh place finish in his first race with Ducati in Qatar.
The seven-time MotoGP champion was unable to get his Ducati career off to a dream beginning, although he did fly through from ninth on the grid to briefly hold second at the first corner. He reckoned fighting for fourth would have been possible, though he suspects he would have fallen back to seventh when his shoulder got weaker whatever happened.
"I had a great start, and that was a nice feeling because the horsepower that this bike has really helps it to launch," said Rossi. "Then I made a small error in the first turn, which is a shame because I got stuck behind [Hector] Barbera for a few laps. Otherwise I would have been closer to [Marco] Simoncelli and [Andrea] Dovizioso, since anyway there was a period when I lapped with them.
"I wouldn't have beaten them, though, because at the end of the race, I'm no longer able to ride like I have to. I'm not referring to the Ducati because even last year, after I hurt my shoulder, I had the same problems in the latter parts of the races, and since the two bikes are so different, it means that it's really a matter of me not being physically right."
Despite acknowledging the role his physical problems played in the result, Rossi said a lot of work was required at Ducati as well.
"For sure we're not here to get seventh-place finishes, but there are also positive things from this race, starting with the times, because we were lapping pretty quickly," he said. "We also have to improve the bike because the others have clearly made a step forward since last year. Still, I learned a lot in this test and in this race, and we've already given very specific instructions about what must be done in the long term, in order to improve for the second half of the season for example.
"In the near term, on the other hand, we'll work on the set-up, we'll keep gathering experience, and I'll continue exercising and doing everything I can to recuperate physically."
Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden was ninth, which he felt was a reasonable result after he was delayed behind Randy de Puniet's crash on the opening lap.
"I got a bad start in the race, and then when de Puniet crashed, I just about ran over him and had to come to a complete stop," Hayden explained. "I'm happy I didn't run into him, but that was a bad break, because I was dead last with a gap to the next person.
"I started picking my way through, and once I got into ninth, I got into a decent rhythm and started doing my pace. I was trying to catch [Colin] Edwards because I thought it would've been nice to have a last-lap race with him, but I didn't quite get to him.
"It's been a tough weekend for me on and off the track, but everybody around here is working to the maximum. They're the first ones in and the last ones out. I can't be happy with the ride, but I came from dead last, and my fastest lap was my last one. We've got a lot of work to do, but it's just one race, and no one can say we weren't trying."