While Andrea Iannone's times from his first and second days aboard Suzuki's GSX-RR in Valencia caught the eye, team boss Davide Brivio pointed toward the Italian's 'technical judgement [and] feedback' as an aspect that particularly impressed in the opening days of their working relationship.
Iannone was seventh on the first day at Valencia, then an impressive fourth on the second, showing he had quickly developed a liking for the machine's nimble, quick-turning chassis.
The Italian was back in the saddle in Jerez last week, testing, among other things, different engine configurations to give suitable feedback to Suzuki engineers, who will attempt to finalise the new motor over the winter months.
Iannone was just the eighth fastest rider on Wednesday at Jerez, half a second off Hector Barbera's fastest lap of the day, but it was the Italian's comments on different technical parts that pleased Brivio.
“Good impressions,” began Brivio, speaking to Crash.net
. “Of course we knew he was fast. Also he's very good in technical judgment, technical comments and he's giving us good feedback, which we will try to use in the last part of the development of the 2017 machine.
“We're not going to bring a new bike. It's this bike, basically. We will try to improve the engine. The chassis, we will try to prepare some parts. It's already, let's say, good. Then especially the electronics. Now we will work to finalise the 2017 spec. it's important to get this feedback to understand what he needs, what he wants. We will try to make him as happy as possible.
“He likes very much the bike. He enjoys riding it. But we have to see when it's time to push seriously. Also today we had a few things to test. It was not a test looking for a lap time. It was more doing the job, selecting parts, giving the feedback. It's a bit early to wait when the bike will start to suit him more.”
Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro, Suzuki's riders through 2015 and '16, had repeatedly earmarked the machine's electronics package as an area in need of improving. Brivio feels that Iannone's experience working with Ducati – believed to have the best electronics package in '16 – will be of great help to the Japanese factory.
“The problems that Aleix and Maverick explained to us are quite similar to his requests. From this point of view we were not surprised. But some other comments were better than expected.
“He's quite happy with a few areas of the bike. And he pointed to, indicated where we need to improve. We need to improve a lot the electronics. We knew that. That's also why we struggle in the wet races in the middle of the season, when we had the three or four wet races. We were not brilliant there. This also is an area where we lack experience.
“Also coming from Ducati, it has a good level of electronics. For sure he is expecting something more than what we can give. As I say he's quite happy about the chassis. He enjoys riding it. The engine is not so bad. He indicated some areas that we can improve.
“We have the unified software so now it's a matter to find the right parameters, the right number to put inside. You develop the number you want to make inside. Traction control, engine braking can be better let's say. As I said, coming from a bike with more sophisticated electronics, he can give also good indications.”
Viñales' podium in Australia – his fourth of the season – was enough to end the technical concessions afforded to Suzuki, due to its recent return to the series.
Unlike Honda, Yamaha and Ducati, the factory had no freeze placed on engine development through the year, a privilege it will cede for 2017, hence the need for one final day of engine evaluation in Andalusia.
As Brivio explained, "The main purpose of this testing was to check different engine specs. We had engines with different specifications. This is not the 2017 engine. But there are some hybrid tests, of some components, to try and understand the character of the engine that we like.
“More smooth, less smooth. More power, less power. Different combinations like this so it was useful. We got the feedback that we wanted. Now we can use this information to work on a final 2017 spec. We lost concessions. It's the first time in this situation [for Suzuki].
“We have to define our spec before the first race. Then we can't change for the rest of the season. It's very important what we do now. Anyway, we give the information to our engineer. They will develop the final version. We will test that in Sepang.
“They are not the 2017 versions but he gave us indications which way to go. It's not a new engine but we changed some components. We will bring to Sepang the '17 engine, continue testing and then decide before Qatar.”