Andrea Dovizioso leads a MotoGP top four covered by just four points, as the second half of the season gets underway at Barcelona this weekend.

But the Ducati star is far from happy, having only taken two podiums (including one win) from the opening seven races and managing no better than seventh place in the recent pair of Misano rounds.

The Italian was confident he had made a much-needed breakthrough during the test session between the Misano rounds, but went on to finish one place further back (eighth) compared to the week before.

"The point is to be in a good situation to really fight, and we are not in that situation," Dovizioso said of his narrow championship lead over Maverick Vinales (Yamaha), Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Joan Mir (Suzuki)

"For sure everything can happen, but the speed is not there to really fight.

"It's frustrating, because we are working so hard to try to adapt on the brake, but I'm still not able to do that. On the data, it's very easy to see, but on the track, it's so difficult to change that."

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Dovizioso and team-mate Danilo Petrucci's problems stem from the increase in grip offered by the new rear tyre construction for 2020.

"As I've explained, this tyre is very different, and the way I rode in the last three years it doesn't work," Dovizioso said. "You have to ride in a completely different way.

"The tyre from last year had a really low grip, and we worked a lot on the setup, and we changed a lot the setup over the last three years, and we were able to stop the bike more with the front than the rear.

"With this tyre, it's completely the opposite, because the rear has a lot more grip, especially in the braking. And we have to change completely the setup of the bike, because you have to brake in a completely different way.

"On the data it's quite clear the difference, but it's so difficult to do that. Looks like it's the opposite to your instinct. Because normally I am a hard braker, and to be a hard braker now is really bad, because every time you brake a bit more, you put the bike in a bad position to stop the bike."

Yet while the factory riders struggled at the Misano rounds, Pramac's Francesco Bagnaia took a debut podium in race 1 and was on course for victory until falling in race 2.

Dovizioso explained that he's still trying to balance how to push the bike less in braking, in order to go faster.

"Pecco is able to brake later, with less pressure, and stop the bike better. And this is something difficult to do," Dovizioso said. "Because if you are slow and you have to be better, normally you push more, or you brake more aggressively or you use more intensity. And what my team requests to me is completely the opposite.

"But it's so difficult to create that, especially because I never brake in that way. But also when I try, I still don't have the feeling to stop the bike. So normally I and every Ducati rider is going to brake a bit harder, and when you do that, it doesn't work.

"This is the explanation why it's so difficult to do, because you have to be faster, but in the way you have to approach the braking and the corner, it's very smooth, so it's very difficult to do."

The end result is that Dovizioso isn't able to extract the maximum performance out of the tyres, especially when they are.

"I was a bit more consistent and I feel a bit better than Misano 1, but I didn't have the speed to improve the situation," said the triple MotoGP title runner-up, who only set the 11th fastest race lap on Sunday. "When the tyre is in better shape, I am not fast. So we have to try to understand this, because it will be very important for the lap time in practice and qualifying, and in the beginning of the race.

"So very disappointed, and we can't be happy, but we are still fighting for the championship.

"For sure we won't give up, also because every track will be a new story, more than the past. And Barcelona, I expect a very low grip, and that will create a completely different situation.

"I don't know if it will be better or worse for us, but it will be very different."

Jack Miller (Pramac) is the next best Ducati rider in the world championship standings, in sixth place and 20-points from Dovizioso.