There were plenty of positives for Franco Morbidelli to take from the latest MotoGP encounter at Sepang, namely upstaging pre-race favourite Fabio Quartararo and claiming a seventh top-six finish of 2019.

But the 24-year old failed to disguise his disappointment soon after he scored sixth place in the tropical heat, as he spoke of his confusion at an inability to replicate the stellar pace he showed through free practice and warm-up.

“Mixed emotions” was how Morbidelli described his feelings. “I couldn’t attack the corners as I wanted,” he explained of the race, where he noted his rivals gaining ground on corner exit.

“Things like this can happen,” he pondered. “But it happens quite often to us to we need to check it out.

“I’ll tell you about the emotions: I feel mixed emotions,” he began. “I feel good because I managed to bring the bike to the end in a tough race, fighting against Fabio and beating him. I got a good start, blah blah blah…

“But I was expecting more because my pace was stronger. This morning my pace was stronger. Throughout all weekend I believe we worked well but clearly we are missing something. We have one more chance to sort it out and one more chance to make our own way towards the podium.”

So what was the problem compared to practice? “I don’t want to dare say anything I don’t know exactly,” he said. “If I tell you now I will tell you – I don’t want to say bullshit, but yeah, I will tell you bullshit.

“So I need to study. We need to study and investigate well. Then we will come up with a solution. It’s not easy because things like this can happen. But it happens quite often to us to we need to check it out.

“You know, I was having a little less grip. I was having less feeling compared to the practice. I couldn’t attack the corners as I wanted to. The other guys were escaping, especially in acceleration. That was it.”

His frustration was understandable. Morbidelli placed either first or second in every free practice session before showing tremendous pace in Sunday’s morning warm-up. He clearly thought a podium challenge was possible from the inside of the third row.

“I was expecting more, yes,” he said. “Yesterday I make 1m 58.4 with the medium tyre and with traffic. And today I was making 1m 59-high on a used medium in the warm-up, feeling good, feeling great.

“And then today in the race I was doing 2m 0.0s and I struggled to keep the pace, which I wasn’t expecting. But it is what it is.”

2019’s finale at Valencia now offers a final chance for the former Moto2 world champion to score a debut premier class podium this year. It’s a round that Morbidelli will attack “with a lot of energy,” he said.

“I like Valencia. It’s a track that I like. I have good memories there. I arrive with a lot of energy because Japan, here… [grunts in frustration]. I’ll arrive with a lot of energy. I just want to make a good job and transmit my energy to my crew so they can work to get a good result.”