Suzuki: 2017 bike not as bad as it seems
Suzuki's GSX-RR is a better package than its low-scoring start to the 2017 MotoGP season would suggest, team boss Davide Brivio insists.
The Japanese manufacturer made major inroads last year, its second season back in MotoGP, led by Maverick Vinales who won at Silverstone and took three other podiums on his way to fourth in the championship before joining Yamaha.
Fielding an all-new line-up of Andrea Iannone and rookie Alex Rins, Suzuki's 2017 package is an evolution of that bike, but its riders have scored just 16 points in the first four races compared to 65 between Vinales and Aleix Espargaro this time last year.
Iannone ran in the lead group early in Qatar and at Jerez before crashing, while Rins has been hampered and then sidelined by injuries.
Acknowledging Vinales' role in its 2016 success, Brivio does not believe Suzuki has necessarily taken a signifiant step backwards on performance.
"I do not think that the Suzuki is as bad as it can seem if we take a look to the numbers," Brivio told Autosport.
"Andrea has fought for podium positions and has won a race [with Ducati]. And our bike was also able to be in front last year with Maverick.
"Now we are seeing what kind of rider Maverick is, but we already knew it.
"What is happening now is that we still haven't found the perfect connection between Andrea and our bike.
"But if we analyse the races, we can realise that things aren't going as bad as reflected in the standings."
Adding to Suzuki's issues are Tech3's rookies flying with the 2016 Yamaha, the progress made by Aprilia and even more newer Ducatis filtering down to satellite outfits.
Iannone arrived from Ducati to lead the team as Vinales' replacement, and Brivio believes adjusting to being the focal point for a manufacturer is proving an adjustment.
"Andrea is going through a new situation," he said. "He is the leader and has all the responsibility.
"Now, the injuries of Rins and the fact of not having a satellite [team] structure, place him as the only rider to set the proper direction.
"There is no other reference than him. This situation is even more complicated."
SUZUKI'S 'SUPERTIME' SLIDE
While it remains the fourth-fastest on paper, Suzuki has lost time relative to the front of MotoGP and even third-placed Ducati, based on the fastest lap set on any given weekend, which is then converted to a percentage to create a 'supertime'
KTM: 103.010% (one race)
2017 SO FAR