Maverick Viñales believes his Suzuki GSX-RR 'can still be better' after he placed encouragingly inside the top six on the first day of MotoGP free practice in Qatar.
Entering his second season in the premier category, the 21-year identified improvements with the machine's electronics as an area that can not only improve his top speed, but his overall lap time.
“It can still be better because the electronics were not set up well,” said Viñales on Thursday evening, in response to the GSX-RR's top speed along the main straight. “I was getting a lot of wheelie and I couldn't keep the full gas in the slow gears. For sure the speed can be faster.”
One of the sensations of the winter testing programme, Viñales was in the privileged position to lead second fastest Valentino Rossi around the Losail track as the session reached its conclusion.
Unaware of the Italian behind him, the rider widely tipped to claim podium finishes in 2016 was content to place fifth, 0.407s off Jorge Lorenzo's fastest time of the evening.
“For sure he [Rossi] has the good lines,” Viñales continued. “He's done 1,000 more laps at this track than me. Anyway, we were doing our job and I wasn't even thinking about whether Valentino was behind.
“The tyre needs some laps to warm up and the time was going down. I then did my last lap, which was my best. For sure it was difficult. I'm happy. It was so difficult to start because the track was so slide-y. Even the hard tyre was more difficult. We kept the concentration and calm so I'm happy.”
Viñales also had one opportunity to sample Suzuki's fully seamless gearbox, but felt that such is his good feeling with his current machine – that has the first seamless spec – he didn't want to continue with it throughout the session.
“We tried one exit but it still it didn't feel so good because now I feel so good with my bike I don't want to change anything. It's difficult to change when you feel great. I tried and we'll make different set-ups for tomorrow.
Speaking about tyres, he added, “For sure I preferred the soft one because it was much more easy to do the lap time but if you can go good with the hard then you'll be able to make the lap time with the soft.”