Fastest on day one then second quickest on day three. The times from the final preseason test in Qatar were very encouraging for Andrea Dovizioso, but the Italian is more than wary of the threat posed by overall pace setter Maverick Viñales.
Dovizioso showed Ducati's GP17 to be in competitive trim around the 3.3-mile Qatar track over the three-day test, but he was not amused when casting an eye over the race simulation times on the final evening.
For although his fastest time of the weekend was just 0.071s slower than Viñales' quickest lap, the young Spaniard's race run was considerably better than anyone else on track. What's more, Dovizioso is sure Viñales could have gone even quicker.
“I'm quite happy,” began the Italian, whose winter testing scorecard reads: third (Valencia), fourth (Sepang), seventh (Phillip Island) and second.
“Not too happy because the pace is quite good but the comparison with Maverick is not that good. He's really fast. He's really confident, in any condition.
“On all of the days he is really fast with the pace but also the lap time in the end. Also I believe he would have been able to make a better lap time if he really pushed.
“But apart from that I'm happy with the work we did across the three days. We found three different conditions and we worked a lot. I think we are quite ready for any condition that we find on the race weekend.”
Dovizioso would have been more optimistic too, had the Ducati's turning issues that have been its weakness for some time now, not appeared at each of the tests in 2017.
“But we have to improve. The pace is not bad. For sure we can be faster than what we did today but still there is something, like last year, where we have to improve.
“It's not easy to keep the same lap time for 22 laps. This track is one of the worse ones about the energy so still we have to improve.”
With Danilo Petrucci - also on a GP17 - sampling harder rubber over a long distance on Sunday evening, Dovizioso completed a 14-lap run on Michelin's soft rear tyre, a compound he found to be at its limit by the end.
“We work really hard with the soft today. Just to have the most feedback we can have with it before the race weekend because during the weekend it's impossible to do a lot of laps together.
“That makes the difference to the tyre. We did a lot of laps with the soft. We have a feedback for how the consumption is and we are on the limit so we will see which condition we will find during the weekend.”
The Losail International Circuit has been kind to Dovizioso in recent years. He narrowly missed out on race wins there in 2015 and '16, but at this point, he foresees another challenge for the race win as being tough, considering the pace of several riders.
“Yeah, I'd be happy if I did again because it means I'm on top and fighting for the victory. It won't be easy because a lot of riders have a good pace.
“But like I said before, during the race is completely different. Every rider approaches that moment in a different way so we will see.”