The MotoGP title fight is not yet exclusively between Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, according to team manager Massimo Meregalli.
Considerable improvements to the factory M1 over the winter, including the introduction of seamless downshifting, have allowed the Japanese marque to dominate the season so far, winning six of the first seven races in 2015.
Rossi and Lorenzo occupy the top two positions in the riders' standings, just a point apart, with Ducati's Andrea Iannone the closest challenger to the pair, 44 points behind Rossi, and struggling reigning champion Marc Marquez 69 adrift from the seven-time champion.
Meregalli admitted that the last two races have gone better than expected for the team, but he stopped short of saying that the battle is now solely a head-to-head between the Yamaha riders.
"The gap to Marquez and Honda, our main rivals, is great," Meregalli told GPOne.com.
"Before arriving at Mugello I was worried – I thought a podium would be difficult against Ducati, which had prepared perfectly for its home race, and Honda, which is superior in top speed.
"Instead it went well and the same here [at Barcelona], where I thought we would suffer with a lack of grip.
"So now I look to Assen for the final confirmation [that the title fight is between Rossi and Lorenzo] – if all goes well there I will feel more comfortable."
Rossi's Saturday struggles
Meregalli also offered his thoughts on Rossi's qualifying problems that have left him on the back foot in comparison to teammate Lorenzo in the last four races.
"Sometimes the problem is due to a suboptimal base setting and on Saturday we are still looking for the right way instead of working on the details," he explained.
"Valentino spends a lot of time in the pits to analyse data and videos, Jorge less. The difference perhaps is due to their age or by the fact that Lorenzo has been with the same team for a long time.
"Also in the last races, Jorge has used a similar bike with only small changes; Rossi instead has made many more changes."