Andrea Dovizioso believes MotoGP's ever-increasing level of competition means a repeat of his 2017 campaign will be “not enough” to challenge for the title this year.
The 31-year-old Ducati rider mounted a surprise charge for the title last season, keeping his hopes alive to the final round in Valencia with six wins – though was beaten in the end by Honda's Marc Marquez.
With expectation regarding Dovizioso higher ahead of the 2018 season, the Ducati rider is adamant he does not feel any added pressure.
However, he concedes he will have to raise his game this year as the sheer number of competitive riders on the grid will make the championship even tougher to contend for.
“I feel like I'm in the right place and that I'm understood, unlike other situations in the past,” Dovizioso explained during Ducati's 2018 launch presentation in Bologna.
“I know very well what we have to do, and what state our rivals and their bikes are in. We find ourselves in an unprecedented situation; in the last three years there are so many riders who can win races.
“There are really a lot of us and in the past it wasn't like this. It means it is much harder if you want to win [the title] – to win, you always have to finish on the podium or come in the top five.
“We have to stay at that level all season and it will be very difficult. What we did last year will not be enough, just as what Marquez did in 2017 to win the title will not be enough."
When asked if he thought he had reached his limit as a rider, the Italian says he “discovered” after his 2017 campaign that it is impossible for a competitor to reach a performance peak.
“After last year I have discovered there is no limit," Dovizioso added. "It's wrong to say a rider has limits. It's not the case for anyone.
“Another mistake people make, also the media, is to think that a rider who has produced similar results for several seasons has arrived at his limit.
"It's wrong. It's possible to do things better and change things; it's hard, but it's not impossible. I have shown this.
“When you're at this level, you are talking about details and little things. There is always something you can do better.”
Additional reporting by Giacomo Rauli
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