Jack Miller held a podium place for almost the entire Spanish MotoGP race.

Behind only race winner Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) during the middle stages, the Pramac Ducati rider had no obvious tyre issues and looked in contention for a possible victory attack if the Frenchman faltered.

But in reality, the Australian was already struggling with a numb right-hand and was passed by Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) on lap 19, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) on lap 20 and then Factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso on lap 24 of 25.

Marquez's huge highside meant the GP20s of Dovizioso and Miller - plus Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) and Pol Espargaro (KTM) - were fighting for the rostrum once again, with Miller eventually crossing the line just half-a-second from the triple title runner-up.

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"It could have been better but this was a really good race for me," Miller said. "The biggest issue I had was some numbness in the hand from halfway through the race. From then on, I was a sitting duck.

"When you look at your board and it says you've got 12 laps left and your hand has gone numb it's a little depressing! I kept plugging away and doing the lap times that I felt I needed to do.

"The bike felt great, my tyres were both spectacular, nothing wrong with them, it was just a shame I couldn’t turn the grip and be as smooth on the throttle towards the end to really try and stay with Maverick."

Miller explained: "I was sitting in the garage with the boys just now thinking through what it could have been. I think it's something to do with the position on the handlebar and because at this track you're always outside of the bike.

"Now in MotoGP we all sort of hang half-a-hand off the outside of the grip when going through a corner and there is some hard plastic or alloy on the end of the grip for the brake protector and crash protector.

"When I put my hand where it would normally be through a right-hand corner, I felt some tenderness in the base of my hand.

"Marc hangs half his hands off and I do the same. On left corners it wasn't a drama. On braking it wasn't an issue. So I don't think it's arm pump, I think it's to do with how I hang on to the handlebars through right-handers.

"We're going to try some different options with the brake protectors for next weekend."

Nonetheless, it was a strong start to the new season.

"Maverick only just finished in front of me, but I don’t think I could have followed Fabio. So we'll take fourth today," Miller said.

"With back to back races and so many races in a short space of time, getting points was the most important thing for me.

"Rins was out and probably for the next one too. Crutch couldn't race today and Marc looks like he could be injured now too. The championship is wide open now.

"We're sitting fourth so we need to focus on trying to improve now. If we can get my hand sorted, I think we could've been on the podium. That's our goal for next weekend."

More favourable tracks for the Ducati should then follow.

"Jerez has never been a good track for me and never been ideal for Ducati in recent years, so to be third and fourth with Dovi and me shows we've got a great package underneath us," he said.

"You couldn't really see the benefit of our bike here, but we've got a couple of tracks coming up that will really let us stretch our legs and show what she's got."