Jorge Lorenzo looked to have the best chance of challenging Marc Marquez for victory in Sunday's Le Mans MotoGP.
Although sixth on the grid, the Movistar Yamaha rider had been the only rider to beat Marquez during a track session prior to the race and set more sub 1m 34s laps than any other rider in warm-up.
Add in use of Lorenzo's more favoured soft rear tyre and a podium looked the bare minimum possible.
Instead the double world champion, who came within four points of defeating Marquez last year, could only manage a lacklustre sixth position.
Afterwards, team-mate and Le Mans runner-up Valentino Rossi was asked for his opinion on Lorenzo's situation, which has seen the Spaniard make his worst start to a premier-class campaign with just one podium from five rounds.
“I understand a little bit Jorge because personally I am in a different situation, so for me to arrive on the podium and stay behind Marc's is acceptable. I know that I can try to fight with him, but I am more relaxed,” explained seven time champion Rossi, who has rebuilt his form at Yamaha after two miserable seasons at Ducati.
“For Jorge it is different, because Jorge wants to win. Last year, for me, Lorenzo did some races that were impressive - the best of his career - even though he didn't win the championship.
“But this year with Marc having more experience and riding like this, and at this moment technically the Honda is a little bit better than the Yamaha. So for Jorge it is a bit frustrating because he knows it is quite impossible and he doesn't want to arrive second.
“He is not happy. So maybe for this reason he has some problems.”
Marquez agreed that Lorenzo does not seem happy on the bike and feels that in turn is impacting on his performances.
“For me the key is that if you want to be fast you need to enjoy it on the bike. Like Valentino said, he is enjoying just riding the bike. When you enjoy it you are faster,” said Marquez, undefeated so far in 2014.
“It looks like Lorenzo is struggling a little bit more, but I think he will find a way and when he will start again to enjoy it on the bike he will be fast. But if you don't enjoy it, it is impossible.”
Lorenzo is fifth in the championship and already 80 points behind Marquez. Rossi is third in the standings.
Speaking after the race Lorenzo said: “Today I didn't ride well and also the setting that I thought was better in the warm-up, with this temperature, was worse.”