Jorge Lorenzo felt a poor first lap and time spent behind Valentino Rossi cost him the chance to challenge Marc Marquez for victory in Sunday's Indianapolis MotoGP.
Lorenzo was shuffled from third to sixth in the opening corners, recovering to where he had started on lap 6 of 27.
Rossi and Marquez were just in front, but when Marquez took the lead from the Italian on lap 11, Lorenzo crucially took a further four laps to overtake his Yamaha team-mate.
That delay helped Marquez build a small advantage he would hold to the finish.
“The key of the race has probably been the start,” said Lorenzo. “I made a not bad start, but lost positons in the first few corners. It has been a while since I had to recover from so far back.
“Normally I start well, first or second, and then try to be as fast as possible with a clear track. Today reminded me of 2010 when I always had to recover from a bad start.
“Little by little the bike was improving and giving me the confidence to enter the corners faster and faster. Probably with a better start, in first position, I could try to open a gap, because Marc was not extremely, extremely fast.
“But finally when Marc attacked Valentino [for the lead] he improved his pace and maybe I was too late to pass Valentino. By then Marc was too far ahead. My pace was similar to him but not enough to challenge him for the victory.”
After a disastrous start to the season, Lorenzo's fourth podium of the year has moved him ahead of Andrea Dovizioso for fourth in the world championship.
Most importantly, the double title winner is clearly getting his confidence back.
“The beginning of the championship was a little bit of a disaster for me,” he said. “I didn't feel comfortable on the bike and made many mistakes. Now I feel a lot better on the bike and I improved my physical condition.
“I ride against very strong riders now; Valentino improved his form this year. He is faster so it is not easy to overtake him and Marc is no longer the rookie rider he was last year. He has a very strong bike and he has more experience and is really fit and riding well.
“But I'm getting better and better. Maybe at a track that is better for Yamaha and my riding style we can challenge Marc. And if we can find some more tenths from the bike maybe we can challenge him at every track.
“Theoretically it should be better for us next time in Brno, but in racing you never know. We are very optimistic and proud of the race today. Here and Mugello have been my best races of this season.”
Marquez set the fastest lap of the race by 0.1s from Lorenzo.