Continuing in a similar vein of form to that which carried him to the leading positions in the past two races, Andrea Iannone topped the first day of MotoGP free practice at Silverstone, before stating managing the tyre drop will be key to his chances in Sunday's race.

Once Iannone had understood the best method of attacking the 3.6-mile Northamptonshire track, which involved observing fellow pace setter Maverick Vi?ales and experimenting with different lines, the fast times followed.

The Italian's fastest lap clocked in at 2m 1.421s, three tenths faster than the Suzuki man, and Iannone later voiced his pleasure at having the confidence in his set-up to push Ducati's Desmosedici GP16 to its limits.

"I'm very happy," said Iannone. "We start in a good way. From the beginning we have a good feeling. I arrive with a good feeling with the bike, a little bit less with the track. The track has always been very difficult. For this afternoon I try to improve and understand the lines and the track a bit better.

"I followed Maverick in the first part of practice and check the data of 'Dovi' [Andrea Dovizioso] and understand a little bit. I think the feeling with the bike is very important. I push at 100 percent and everything is OK. This is a very good point for us.

"All of FP1 we use the soft tyre and don't change for the last ten minutes. The degradation is big but it's big for everyone. Jorge [Lorenzo] explain this problem this afternoon. The same with Maverick. I think it's the same for everybody but it's very important for us to understand this more and adjust the bike to improve this degradation."

Many riders mentioned Michelin's rubber suffering from a notable drop in performance after several laps, a feature which Iannone also experienced. Adapting his electronics to lessen the severity of the drop was key, he said, as it was similar with both tyre compounds that he sampled.

"It's difficult at the moment. We start and finish the practice this morning with the soft tyres. This afternoon I tried the hard one. I use and it's not so bad. It has good grip, good consistency.

"But I think the drop more or less is the same. Tomorrow we'll focus more on this point. First of all, it's important to work on the electronics so I have a smooth, easy bike to help with the rear tyres. Both have a big drop at the moment."

It was a relaxed, humorous Iannone that greeted the press on Friday afternoon while the rain hammered the top of Ducati's hospitality, where he touched on the good atmosphere within his crew.

Furthermore, having sampled a new chassis at the Red Bull Ring in both a test and the race weekend, Iannone insisted the speed of his current Desmosedici GP16 is down to setting adjustments, rather than new components.

"I work very well with my team. I think the feeling at the moment is at the best. With the bike we work well in the practice. But we don't change everything all the time. At the moment I change the bike that finished the test in Misano.

"We tried another setting for this afternoon but we didn't improve. We came back, I ride, and I improve lap-by-lap. I think this is the best.

"I think the bike is the same. We improve the setting a little bit but the bike is the same. I use the new chassis in the Austria test. From the beginning it was very good. During the last day in Austria I come back, tried the old chassis and I preferred it.

"I came to the race with both chassis. In the end I raced with the old one. In Brno I wanted two old chassis and that's what I used. We don't have new parts. For sure we work on the setting and we adjust the suspension always but nothing more."

Iannone's rise to the top came after suffering an engine problem in the morning session.

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