Rossi: A podium wasted at the start
Valentino Rossi took a small measure of revenge as soon as he entered the Ducati hospitality area to meet the press. "How did Barbera do today? I didn't see him, was he right behind me until the end?" The joking out of the way, Rossi was genuinely content with his performance at Mugello. "It was my best race of the season. We made a change to the front end during the warm up, and it gave me a perfect feeling in the right hand corners. I was able to push the way I like."
Too bad you started on the fourth row...
"You can't hope for a podium when you start there, and you must be at least one row further forward. Unfortunately I can't take advantage of the soft rear tire in qualifying. It doesn't give me any benefits, and it actually does more harm than good. It's the same in the opening laps of the race, when the tire is still new."
In what way?
"The biggest problem with the Ducati is on corner entry, and a new tire only makes it worse. The extra grip makes the front end struggle even more, and things get better when the tire starts to wear and slide a little bit. We still don't fully understand why, and Hayden has no problem taking advantage of the soft tires."
You also got a lackluster race start...
"My start was really bad. I lost two positions, and I even had a CRT in front of me. If you remove the time I lost on the opening lap, I could have scored a podium."
You were faster at the end of the race, why?
"It's thanks to a new setup that we've been using for a couple of races. It allows me to maintain a good pace until the very end. I even had fun today, and I had some nice battles."
Now that we have passed the halfway point in the season, how would you evaluate your situation?
"I'd say that today's result gives us an injection of confidence for the next rounds. We have taken some steps forward, but Honda and Yamaha have also improved. There are some tracks where I have been a lot faster than last season, but it's still not enough."
Is tomorrow's test going to be decisive?
"We will try some new things, both for the engine and the chassis. It will be important to continue improving. We just have to wait and see."
Will you use the new motor at Laguna Seca?
"That is the plan, but we still aren't sure."
Stoner has struggled in the last two races. What do you think?
"I think that until the final lap at the Sachsenring, he was leading the championship. Then he made some mistakes. The incredible thing is Lorenzo's consistency; without the crash at Assen, his worst result this season is 2nd place. If you want to fight with him, you can't make a single mistake."
Who do you see as Jorge's biggest rival?
"Casey is the fastest, but the least consistent. He is the opposite of Pedrosa, who is now closer in points. But I'd keep an eye on both of them. The championship is still open."
What did you think of Iannone's win?
"It was fantastic. He really loves Ducati, and I think they should give him a bike next season."
Below is the full audio interview with Valentino Rossi:
Translation by Sean Sedacca