Ducati needs to change its Desmosedici MotoGP machine so that it is less reliant on lean angle and edge grip to set fast lap times.
That was the verdict of Andrea Dovizioso after spending the early stages of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix battling with the present top four of Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
Dovizioso went on to lead an exciting four-way fight for fifth at the conclusion of the Jerez race, but had slipped 19 seconds behind Lorenzo - the slowest of the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders - and 27 seconds from winner Marquez.
“If we see the 27 seconds we can't be happy, but it shouldn't be any different because the bike hasn't changed and this is the present reality,” said Dovizioso. “The biggest change we've had so far was in the winter tests, since then we haven't had any big new material.
“We are not where we want to be, especially about how we have to ride the bike. In the first two laps, when I was with the first four riders, they are riding in a completely different way to the other riders. But it is not something new. When I was up there a few years ago it was exactly the same.
“In MotoGP you have to ride without [too much lean] angle. Some riders - like us - are able to make a good lap time in practice or qualifying when the grip is good or the first lap, because we are fast on angle. But in the race you cannot ride like this because the grip is less, the tyre drop is more, the fuel is more. Many reasons.
“This is why the top four riders are making the difference. But they are not doing anything different from in the past. It has just always been the reality. Until we improve the bike to ride in that way we are not able to be closer.”
Dovizioso, who claimed Ducati's first podium since 2012 with third place in Texas, added: “You can have some situations, like America or maybe Le Mans [next race], where we can be closer. But to stay close to them consistently is not possible. But Gigi [Dall'Igna, new Ducati Corse general manager] did not expect anything different in these first few races.
“We have to wait for the new material and try to finish as best we can until then. I'm happy with the start of the season and this fifth place is positive in terms of the points.”
New rules for this season mean Ducati can enjoy the Open class benefits - greater race fuel, a softer tyre, more engine changes and development, plus increased testing - but the closest they have been to victory so far is +12 seconds in Qatar.
Dovizioso is fourth in the world championship after four rounds.