As the heat rose in the Spanish desert, so did the frustration within Tech 3. Johann Zarco’s woes were such in MotoGP FP2 that he even began questioning his own ability as a rider.

“You even wonder if you are OK or not,” he said, referring to his afternoon efforts which resulted in a paltry 17th place, a full 1.6 seconds off Marc Marquez’s fastest time. Thursday’s premonitions that rear grip would be at a premium were grounded in reality after all.

Zarco’s principle issue was track temperature. In the relatively cool FP1, he was ninth and less than a second from the front. But any semblance of grip dispersed as the heat picked up, and Yamaha’s acceleration issues were exposed.

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The weekend is but two sessions old and the revelation of 2017 has already entered into ‘damage limitation’ mode. This feels like the Iwata manufacturer is in the middle of a very difficult run that isn’t ending anytime soon.

“[I’m] Happy that I could start the weekend well with a good FP1, using the medium rear tyre, working on it, and being not far from the top guys,” said a downbeat Zarco. “I mean, one second is maybe a lot, but I could see that the other guys were not so fast. So this was the positive.

“Overall on this track, normally it disturbs me a lot and where I struggle, but this afternoon with the warm temperature, I think our bike lost some grip, and then you can't do anything on the bike.

“There is no solution, because if you try to go fast into the corner, you slide, and if you try to slow down to have better acceleration, the bike doesn't have acceleration. So then I don't know what I can do. We know that for a long time now with the team, and we know that we have to play with it, to ride with it.

“The problem is when you are in the position I am in now, it's sad, because you give everything you have to give, and then you even wonder if you are OK or not as a rider. But with what I did this morning, yes, I'm OK as a rider.”

Is grip the principle issue? “I think so, yes,” he said. “Anyway, it's always the same problem for everyone, but for us it looks even worse. So I don't know, what can I tell you? We need to accept that I must fight with the same enthusiasm as I would fight for the podium, but it will maybe be for a top ten.

“I'm not a technician. And what we have, we always have the same problem. So put another rider on my bike, and we will see where the bike is going. It's the only thing I can tell you. But I'm five tenths behind [Maverick] Viñales, and I would say that he's so far, so that means he's in trouble too.”

Are Zarco’s issues mainly with rear grip? “It's always the rear which is sliding more, that doesn't help you to then go in the good direction,” he said. “Entry is not bad, it's one of the strong points of the Yamaha, but then on the track, you also need to open the gas sometimes.

“If we could do six kilometers without the gas, maybe we would be competitive!”