Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales: two faces of the same garage. The Number 46 is at this moment the other face of Yamaha: he struggled more than expected and admitted he is worried about his performance in winter testing. Qatar looms and Rossi is visibly worried.
While new teammate Maverick Vinales has pulled off a clean sweep in off-season testing, going quickest in Valencia, Sepang, Phillip Island and Qatar, Rossi suffered behind of the 22 year old Spaniard for most of the running. He was able to be competitive the second day of the final Qatar test, but he was not able to improve on the third and last day, finishing 0.855s behind Vinales.
“We had a program, but unfortunately I didn’t have the same feeling and the same speed,” Rossi said. “Looks like the condition of the track changed a bit, and we were not able to follow, to improve. We put in a lot of effort to go a bit slower. Maybe I could have been a bit fastest on a single lap but this is not the point”.
We put some pointed questions to him:
How was your race simulation?
“I did some laps but I knew I was not fast. We are not strong enough in terms of race pace”.
How do you feel looking at the first race of the season?
“I think we are still not ready, we don’t understand 100% how to make the bike work at the maximum. We are a bit worried because at the end except for some good laps the winter tests were very difficult. So now we have to speak together and try to be stronger for the first race. I hope to be faster and more competitive”.
Which changes can be done before the Qatar race?
“I could say, I have been hiding myself and it was just tactics, but the reality is that I don’t have a solution in this moment. We hope for a miracle! I haven’t understood how to use this bike at the maximum”.
Have you considered the possibility to return to the 2016 M1 chassis?
“We did some considerations, looking at Folger’s performance. The problem is that the 2016 bike stresses too much the tyres and at this moment of the season it’s too late to change direction”.