Marc Marquez admitted he was some way off his swashbuckling best through the first day of MotoGP free practice at Mugello, as the reigning world champion battled with sickness and fever to prepare for Sunday’s 23-lap race.

The 26-year old said he only completed a handful of laps “at 100 percent”, but found himself “riding in a strange way” as the effects of the flu hampered his concentration.

Friday was by no means a disaster; Marquez topped FP1 and placed sixth in the afternoon session, while working on set-up for race distance. Even some way off full fitness, and the seven-time world champion remains a challenger.

“First of all, it looks like the Ducatis are very strong here,” he said. “Since they started, [Michele] Pirro was very fast. This afternoon, all the Ducatis were in a different way, [Danilo] Petrucci was fast, even [Maverick] Viñales was very fast.

“We know this is a circuit where we have our weak point in these kinds of corners, but even like this we are not far behind. Today, we need to consider that we were not 100 percent with the setup, but I was also not at 100 percent. I was riding in a strange way.

“I wasn't concentrated 100 percent, because I was sick, and it was difficult to understand everything. We worked for race distance, and at the moment, it's difficult to say. For the first six or seven laps, everybody is fast, and then the tyres drop and it becomes more difficult.

“When your physical condition is not 100 percent on the bike, especially when you have fever, you are able to be fast, because you have this instinct, but the way to understand the bike, the way to concentrate, they way to be constant, is difficult.

“I'm a rider who can do all the laps at 100 percent, but today I just did some laps at 100 percent , then I slowed down to 80 percent, because I felt like my reactions and everything was slower than normal.

“Then it becomes dangerous, so experience says to slow down a little bit, it's only Friday, and tomorrow we will try to push in a different way, and it looks like the good thing is it's getting better already.”

In recent years Marquez and Honda – so reliant on daring late braking feats – have struggled with Michelin’s front tyre allocation at Mugello, with the Catalan opining it was too soft for hot track conditions in both 2017 and ’18.

“This year, the front tire allocation is better,” he said. “Even like this, for me, my personal opinion, everybody has their personal opinion, but Michelin needs to cover everything, but I would like another, harder tyre in the front.

“But they brought this new tyre, they call it 'S', that's not bad, it's not bad. But it's a little bit on the soft side. With the medium, we don't have graining, we had a lot of graining on the medium last year, and then it becomes dangerous.

“This year we don't have graining. It's softer, but like I said in Le Mans, we can also manage in a different way. Today we were able to manage, so tomorrow we will try to help this kind of tires with the set-up.”

On the state of the Mugello track, he added, “The bumps are there, but for example, it was worse at Austin. They are there, it's not a disaster. It's not like you cannot ride. But they are there. The problem is that in this circuit in some corners the wall is very close.

“We saw already that in turn one there is this uphill and downhill and the bike is shaking. There's it's OK. We already saw some crashes there in MotoGP and in Moto2, but for example in turn five, if they lose the front, the bike and rider arrives to the wall.

“And then also turn twelve they also arrive to the wall when they lose the front. So we need to consider this. Of course, there is the air-fence there, but if when you crash, the bike is in front of you, the air-fence doesn't work.”