Much has changed for Franco Morbidelli since last year's second Qatar MotoGP race; a new (factory) team, new bike, not to mention surgically repaired ligaments in his left knee.

But, mirroring the situation of team-mate Fabio Quartararo, his race time was almost identical to 2021.

The Italian finished last Sunday's 22 laps with a time 0.126s slower than a year ago. The problem was that this year's race-winning time, by Enea Bastianini, was over 10-seconds faster.

That meant although Morbidelli was one place better off than on the A-Spec Petronas Yamaha, in eleventh, he dropped from +5.8s to +16.7s.

After sinking from twelfth to 17th in the early stages, Morbidelli recovered to eleventh place by lap 12, helped by accidents ahead, where he remained.

Like fellow factory-spec riders Quartararo (9th) and Andrea Dovizioso (14th), Morbidelli was hampered by high tyre-pressure issues, in addition to the M1's known low top speed.

“Both riders experienced unusually high tyre pressure almost immediately from the beginning of the race. This prohibited them from being on the attack like they normally would. We will be investigating why this happened," said team director Massimo Meregalli.

Morbidelli said: “It was a difficult race. We struggled this weekend in terms of rear grip. That prevented us from having a wonderful performance.

"In the race I had a really poor start. I wasn't cunning enough to make the right moves in the first laps, and I lost a lot of time. And then when I picked up my pace, I was not so bad.

"I was close to my maximum, that felt good. The problem is that our maximum was not enough to be on top this weekend.

"But it's just the first round. We know Qatar is a particular track and a particular weekend, so we move forward. We keep in mind the problems that we have, and we'll work on them for sure.

"But we go to Mandalika with the same energy as always, we will try to do a good job there, and then we‘ll see where we stand there.”

Morbidelli set the fastest Yamaha lap of the race, a fraction quicker than Quartararo, but it was only the twelfth best overall.

The #21's maximum speed (349.5km/h) was likewise the best of the Yamahas but still only good enough for 20th out of 24 riders.

The fastest race speed was 357.6km/h by the Suzuki of Joan Mir.