Suzuki's lead rider Andrea Iannone may currently languish 15th in the MotoGP championship, with 51 points less to his name than Maverick Vi?ales achieved at the same point a year ago, but team boss Davide Brivio believes the changes to the 2017 GSX-RR have mainly been positive.

As Vi?ales left for Yamaha, the Suzuki underwent no major facelift in the winter months, with electronics improvements and added horsepower two key areas of focus. A new chassis was also introduced, although that has since been shelved, meaning Iannone is mainly using the '16 frame.

In spite of Brivio's mantra of 'evolution, not revolution', Iannone has struggled badly to extract the maximum from his new package, with the Grand Prix of Catalunya surely his - and the factory's - nadir. 16th place, 43 seconds back of race winner Andrea Dovizioso was a dismal showing.

Iannone has repeatedly complained of an inability to brake intensively, all the way to the apex with the GSX-RR, while, in his opinion, the electronics and grip on corner exit is no match for what he was used to with Ducati's Desmosedici machine.

The recent spate of underwhelming results has led to speculation linking Iannone away from Suzuki in '18, despite him having a two-year deal. At Barcelona last week, Brivio dismissed this, but also refused to criticise the factory's current package, subtly portioning the blame in one direction.

"It's difficult to say," came the team boss' reply when asked about changes to this year's machine. "We did some changes from last year's bike, like the electronic. In our opinion they are all good changes. It happens sometimes also other manufacturers. We improved the electronic and it looks better.

"In winter we had the new evolution chassis, which we didn't choose. Actually, we are racing mostly with the chassis from last year. The engine is a little bit better, a little bit faster, powerful. I will not say we made some mistakes."

Suzuki stayed on at Barcelona on Tuesday last week with Yamaha and KTM to continue testing with returnee Alex Rins, and stand-in/test rider Sylvain Guintoli. Along with sampling new parts, the factory was hopeful of understanding its recent malaise. Tyres, said Brivio, may also be a factor.

"I don't know. Maybe you also have to consider the tyre factor. Going into these hot races maybe it's making also the problem even worse. We are trying to find out.

"That's why also during this test we are testing some new ideas. We are also going back on some old things to understand some factors. Something we're working hard to understand."

By Neil Morrison

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It would be funny if Iannone went to Aprilia he would be team mates with the guy who was let go from Suzuki to make room for him. Probably won't happen. I think Suzuki is stuck with Iannone for next year, there are no good replacements available that I can see, and no good seats for Iannone to go to.

Yeah now we know Espargaro would be a much better choice. But that was unclear at the time of the decision.

Perhaps for iannone Suzuki's package is less interesting then Belen's package :)

i trust Suzuki, but this year is not a good one like the 2016

Iannone clearly doesn't want to be there, should have held on to Espargaro