Takaaki Nakagami got the 2022 Italian MotoGP off a brilliant start for the Japanese manufacturer as he topped FP1 by nearly four tenths, however, the same level of performance was not forthcoming from Espargaro or six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez.

‘I could see I was struggling a lot’ - Marquez

Marquez was over 1.2 seconds down on Nakagami’s time as he finished FP1 in 18th place. And although ‘a step’ was found during the hotter conditions of FP2, Marquez was still unable to crack the top ten on combined times.

"In Free Practice 1 I went out and I could see I was struggling a lot, so I focused more on finding the correct line and understanding our limits," said Marquez. "Then in the afternoon, during FP2, we were able to make a step and push harder. 

"Let’s see what happens tomorrow, we need to make another step but at the moment we are quite far from the top. We are struggling with turning and also riding here, but let’s see. 

"The conditions can change and a lot can still happen. We need to understand the bike balance for tomorrow and try working on a few more different things."

Despite having new chassis parts at his disposal, it seems as though Marquez is continuing to struggle with the revolutionised 2022 RC213V, a bike that’s not allowing him to get comfortable with the front-end.

‘We are far from the top’ says Espargaro as his future with Honda remains in the balance

While Marquez struggled regarding one lap and race pace, the same was evident for Espargaro who was seven tenths off the top time set by his brother Aleix, despite managing to sneak into the top ten. 

Espargaro added: "It was not a great day, we are the fastest Honda but we are quite far from the top and need to find something more. 

"In the afternoon we worked hard to go quicker even if the conditions made it quite difficult and we made some progress. Everyone in the team is working very hard to fix the problems and tomorrow’s conditions could change the situation a lot. 

"At the moment we are in between the medium and the hard, each presents a different strength and we need to understand what is best."

Valentino Rossi vs Marc Marquez - The Rivalry | MotoGP

What went wrong for reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo?

One of the big surprises from day-one of practice in Mugello was seeing Quartararo unable to challenge the likes of A. Espargaro and the mass amount of Ducati’s that appeared in the top ten. 

Although he finished ninth and therefore held onto a crucial top ten place ahead of FP3 which could be wet, Quartararo was behind six Ducati riders, including rookie Marco Bezzecchi. 

Should a similar result take place during Saturday’s qualifying, then Quartararo making it back-to-back Mugello wins will be a near-impossible task given the difficulties his Yamaha has had when it comes to overtaking in 2022, a common problem for much of the grid due to overheating front tyres pressure and the heightened levels of downforce that’s now applied to MotoGP machines. 

Like Marquez, Quartararo also had ‘new’ parts to play with in the form of a revised 2021-spec fairing. 

But it didn’t seem to work for Quartararo who was unusually subdued when it came to the fastest riders.

"I was expecting this to be a tough weekend, but in a different way," claimed the French rider. "I was struggling in the turning area. I was using too much of the track and going super wide. 

"So, we have to work on a solution to turn a bit tighter. But the most important thing for today was to be in the top 10. Luckily, we are in ninth position, though I had expected more. 

"We need to find this small thing that we're missing. I feel like we can make a big step, and I think it's possible to fight for the first two rows or even the front row."