Still chasing a debut MotoGP podium after four seasons in the premier-class, Takaaki Nakagami has enlisted the help of a mental coach ahead of the 2022 season.

The Japanese star has finished a career best fourth on three occasions, but missed out on at least twice as many rostrum – and possibly victory - chances in the last two seasons.

Most notably, Nakagami fell from the lead on lap one at Aragon 2020, after qualifying on pole. A mistake also cost him dearly at Valencia that year, falling as he passed Pol Espargaro for third.

2021, Nakagami's first season on the latest-spec Honda machinery, saw the double Moto2 race winner drop from third to seventh when rain arrived at Le Mans. The LCR rider was also holding third at Assen when he lost eight places due to a mid-race mistake.

Nakagami then set a race pace fast enough for the podium at COTA, but it counted for nothing after a lap 2 fall.

"I had a couple of good races last season, but to be honest it was really tough for myself. Many crashes. But all my team, we never gave up," said Nakagami, whose 12 accidents was the highest since his rookie season, but the least by a Honda rider in 2021.

While the RC213V suffered well-known rear grip issues last year, catching out all its riders, Nakagami has admitted he needs to control the pressure better when in a strong position

That's why he's become the latest rider to work with a mental coach, but the 29-year-old knows it won't be an instant process.

"After the [2021] season, I already started working with a mental coach, mental trainer," Nakagami said. "It's step-by-step, but this kind of thing is really sensitive because nobody can change personality in one day.

"I'm thinking to relax and of course race-by-race we need to improve, but already myself and also my mental trainer are working in a different way.

"So I'm really looking forward to the Malaysia test [February 5-6]. To see how I've changed and race-by-race how I can change mentality [more] and how we can improve the race results.

"But we don’t need to really push [to do everything in] just one day. Race-by-race and hopefully I can feel how [I have] a different mentality from last season.

"So I'm really looking forward to this season. It's my fifth year in MotoGP so it's time to make a great season."

Nakagami finished 15th in last year's world championship, his lowest ranking since his rookie season, but still one place ahead of team-mate Alex Marquez.