Andrea Iannone has opened up on his tough first year with Suzuki and concedes he struggled to change his racing approach to trust in the Japanese manufacturer but is eager to fightback in 2018.

The former MotoGP race winner switched to Suzuki last year after being replaced by Jorge Lorenzo in the factory Ducati line-up for 2017. Despite promising pre-season tests and a strong start at the season opener in Qatar before crashing out, Iannone endured a frustrating campaign.

Suzuki were eager to kick-on from a strong 2016 which saw Maverick Vinales score podiums and a race win at Silverstone but the Japanese manufacturer endured a rostrum-less year. Iannone secured just four top 10 finishes in the opening 14 races before a late breakthrough with fourth place at Motegi backed up by a pair of sixth places in Phillip Island and Valencia.

Iannone hasn’t shied away from achieving well below expectations in 2017 and was honest in his assessment of where he was going wrong.

“This year has not been an easy season for us and definitely harder than expected,” Iannone said in a Suzuki blog. “When we first tested the GSX-RR back in Valencia last year [2016], my feeling was very good and with the whole team we thought we could achieve good results.

“Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. Despite the first race in Qatar being a good one, we started to struggle a little bit and it took me a long time to get used to the Suzuki machine. My crew chief Marco Rigamonti and myself were new to Team Suzuki, meaning that we had to start from the scratch with the bike knowledge and with the working philosophy of the Japanese company.

“Every MotoGP team is different and when you come from many years with a specific environment it’s really complicated to change your way to approach the work and also to face problems. But as time passes in the garage you learn to trust your colleagues and you take advantage of the huge number of things they can explain and teach you about the bike.”

Despite his frustrations, Iannone has a firm belief he found breakthroughs with Suzuki in the closing rounds of 2017 and is eager to use that momentum for a stronger season this year.

“Patience and focus are the key of success, this is something I’ve always believed in,” he said. “This has been proved this year again. We kept on working, little-by-little, step-by-step. We got into a lot of frustration but even in the darkest times, we never lost our faith in hard work.

“Finally, in Brno and then in Aragon, some new technical solutions on the machine reassured our beliefs: We found the mistakes, we had some solutions and 2018 looked brighter after that. This came from the teamwork, which is the key.”