Valentino Rossi said a "crazy" manoeuvre by Andrea Iannone prevented him from taking the fight to Marc Marquez as the Spaniard won in Australia to move in sight of a fourth MotoGP title.
Marquez emerged victorious from a thrilling race on Phillip Island, surviving contact with Rossi to reel in Maverick Vinales on lap 21 and storm to a sixth victory of the season.
Andrea Dovizioso's 13th-place finish leaves Marquez with a dominant 33-point lead with two races to go.
Rossi, still nursing a broken leg, finished second on Sunday after holding off Iannone and Johann Zarco, but he lamented the Suzuki rider's aggressive nature for distracting him from catching Marquez late on.
"I think I had the potential to stay with Marquez until the end because I was fast," said Rossi.
"But when at one moment I thought that I was in the perfect position, Iannone arrived in the hairpin like crazy, and Marquez went away. But I think that anyway it was difficult to win."
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Rossi, Vinales, Zarco and Jack Miller all had spells in the lead, but Marquez left them behind in the closing stages.
As well as his run-in with 'The Doctor', Marquez also remained upright after clipping wheels with Zarco and seven-time premier-class champion Rossi spoke of the changing face of MotoGP.
"The level of aggression and contact raised a lot, especially when the young riders arrive from Moto2. Also Zarco is always very aggressive," said Rossi.
"You get angry, but anyway it doesn't change anything. This is the game if you want to play, it is like this. It is a bit more dangerous, but this is the way if you don't want to stay at home.
"To fight especially with Zarco, and then arrived Iannone, the two worst riders for fighting.
"I remember I had the fight with Iannone in 2015 and he beat me on the last lap so I try the maximum with also Zarco like this and also with Marquez, so was a great race I enjoy a lot."