Danilo Petrucci attempted to shrug off a frustrating MotoGP qualifying session at Qatar, after he missed out on a place on the first two rows of the grid for Sunday's race and witnessed Marc Marquez using his Ducati GP19 repeatedly for a tow.

With the clock ticking in the 15-minute Q2 shootout, Petrucci attempted to let Marquez by, but found the Spaniard was unwilling to move past. This left the factory Ducati rider with no other option but to push on with Marquez in his slipstream.

The Honda rider claimed a place on the front row (third) with his final lap, while Petrucci was "a little bit disappointed" with the seventh fastest time.

“We know Marc is a champion for many years, so when he is a little bit in trouble, he uses everything he’s got, and this time, I was one of his weapons, unfortunately,” he said after qualifying in seventh place.

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“I was a little bit disappointed because I said on Thursday my target was to be on the first two rows,” said Petrucci. “I was more afraid about the qualifying than the race. I know I can be fast in the pace and in FP4 I was. But for sure I made a mistake, first because I haven’t had the chance to do a very, very good look.

“And especially because Marc was the cat and he needed a mouse. And he won for today. He was more clever than me. He made a strategy and it worked. I let it work, his strategy.

“This was the problem. On the first run I waited one lap. Then in the second run I had to do another lap. I pushed. But I said, ‘OK, I’ll do one lap at 90 percent because I know Marc is behind me, and I can give him a good tow, but I have another chance.

“In the second run, it was the same, but I had no time at the end, and I waited another lap. But then there was one minute left at the end, and I decide to push, but imagine if I crash on the last lap? I would start in twelfth position, maybe.

“So this was better. I did one lap not perfect voluntarily but he used 100 percent of his strategy and I’m sorry about this because I gave him a tow and it was useful for him.

“It's part of racing,” he smiled. “Unfortunately for me, he didn't do anything incorrect. For sure he waited a lot on the track. But it's racing. And we know Marc is a champion for many years, so when he is a little bit in trouble, he uses everything he’s got, and this time, I was one of his weapons, unfortunately.”

A Ducati spokesman confirmed someone representing the Italian factory had gone to Race Direction after qualifying to clarify if Marquez’s tactics were legal.

“I think they just looked at the rules [to check whether he was going slower than] 107 percent in one sector, but sincerely I don’t care,” said Petrucci. “I prefer to stay in front with my potential and not arguing about the rules. We know Marc is fast. I put him in the favourite on Thursday.

“Marc is very, very fast. The Honda is growing up. The Honda is very, very powerful. This is the problem, because this is the worst track for them, and he is in front. This is the worst thing.”

On his potential for Sunday’s race Petrucci added, “I want to battle for the podium. I don’t know if it’s possible because I think there are ten riders who can fight for the podium and especially we are very close to each other.

“To make the difference at the end of the race is difficult because you have to care for the tyre in the first half of the race. With a lot of riders in front, it won’t be easy.

“For sure the first row are the favourites. Then I saw [Fabio] Quartararo in FP4, and he is very, very fast, he is riding so well. Then, I think I can fight for the podium. Then I don't know if [Valentino] Rossi will be in the mix. Also [Alex] Rins is very, very fast on the pace, and we are already at ten people.”



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