Espargaró left perplexed by race struggles
16 October 2017 – Aleix Espargaró conceded he had "big problems" during the Japanese Grand Prix and was left perplexed by his lack of pace, compared to the remainder of the weekend's running.
Espargaró was third quickest during Friday practice and qualified in fourth spot, narrowly missing out on a place on the front-row of the grid.
However, Espargaró slipped back to seventh position on the opening lap and retained the place for much of the 24-lap affair.
Having expressed confidence post-qualifying that Aprilia could fight for the leading positions, Espargaró was left bemused by his relative lack of performance.
"Seventh place is a good result, but our potential was better than that," said Espargaró.
"To be honest, I am disappointed. After the speed we demonstrated all weekend, our expectations were different.
"Unfortunately, I never found my rhythm in the race. I had big problems with aquaplaning that cost me a lot of ground. I don't really understand it.
"I even tried to change the engine map, but the situation did not improve much.
"Towards the end of the race, when it stopped raining, I was able to do a few good laps, getting close to the Suzukis, but then it started raining again and I had to settle."
Aprilia chief Romano Albesiano nonetheless exuded confidence over the squad's gains, though accepted improvements in race trim are still required.
"It was a very positive weekend in which we demonstrated great competitiveness both in true wet conditions and in mixed dry and damp conditions which had really penalised us in the past," he said.
"This is also a very important sign of improvement.
"In practice we did much better than we did in the race and that indicates that we need to improve our race management."