Ducati has admitted that it is "not ready" to achieve its stated aim of fighting for the MotoGP championship with Jorge Lorenzo after a tough pre-season for its riders.
Having signed three-time champion Lorenzo from Yamaha, Ducati entered 2017 expecting to able to build on a 2016 campaign that yielded two race victories - its first in MotoGP since 2010.
But Lorenzo's transition to its 2017 Desmosedici GP bike has proven trickier than expected, and while Andrea Dovizioso did top one day of testing in Qatar, Yamaha's Maverick Vinales has ended all three pre-season tests fastest.
Speaking to Spanish TV network Movistar, Ducati technical chief Gigi Dall'Igna admitted that Ducati may fall short of its target of beating rivals Honda and Yamaha, but praised his riders for what they had achieved in testing.
"Our goal after signing Jorge is to fight for the world championship," Dall'Igna said.
"It's clear that at the moment we are not ready to do it, but we do have solutions to reduce the problems we have.
"We are satisfied with Dovizioso's development work this pre-season.
"Especially at Sepang and here at Qatar the first day he gave us precious feedback to develop the bike.
"In the case of Jorge, there is still a lot of work to do, but I'm happy with what we have done together."
LORENZO DIFFICULTIES 'NORMAL'
Dall'Igna previously worked with Lorenzo during his 125cc and 250cc days at Derbi and Aprilia, and was a key factor in convincing the Spaniard to jump ship to Ducati last season.
The Italian engineer defended Lorenzo's performances during the winter, highlighting the challenging nature of having to switch manufacturers after nine successive seasons at Yamaha.
"Lorenzo is doing a difficult job," continued Dall'Igna.
"Changing bikes is always complicated, especially if you have always been with the same people.
"It's normal that we have encountered some difficulties.
"I've known Jorge since he was a child and it's clear that he has matured.
"He knows what he wants and what he can get, but his character at heart is the same - and I am glad it has remained like it was then."