Vinales and Quartararo already have a signed contract, Rossi the promise of a factory bike, and the only Yamaha rider to have nothing in his hand for the moment is Franco Morbidelli. The Italian will have to prove on the track that Iwata was wrong not to place their faith in him and the only way is with the results. Last year he was overshadowed by Quartararo, from now on he will have to prove that he is not simply a promise, but a solid rider.
Franco, how important is this season for you?
“A lot, perhaps the most important of my career. It is my third year in MotoGP, after arriving as the Moto2 world champion. The first year was full of difficulties, while in the second year everyone thought that I would have got some good results. In some cases, it happened, but Quartararo was constantly faster than me. Everyone expects more from me, or at least I expect more from myself."
In hindsight, thinking of Quartararo who has been hired by the official team, was 2019 a wasted opportunity?
“It's a thought that went through my head, but I gave my best last year, if that's not enough it's a different account. However, I don't see it as a wasted opportunity, Fabio simply was better than me and we have to work to improve."
Are you worried about your future?
“I am very calm even though I still don't know what will happen. But I know there are people by my side who are working very well to ensure me a good position in 2021, then we will see what it will be".
Rossi said he wouldn't mind having you as a teammate in Petronas.
"What can I say? I would like it too (laughs) ”.
You know Valentino very well, so don't you think he could retire in any case at the end of the season? If he were competitive, he could leave in style.
"I stick to what he says: if he goes well, he will continue, otherwise he will stop."
Would you agree to continue in a satellite team or are you aiming for a factory team?
“I will have to choose what will be best for me, whether to stay in Yamaha or to change. I don't have to decide now, but in a little while. "
How much time do you give yourself?
“I can't give myself a deadline right now, because I can't think about it yet. This type of work is being done by others for me, so that I can only focus on being the best rider possible. Thinking about the future takes energy and time, better if others take care of it for now, I will do it when it is necessary, when and if I have a range of options to consider ".
The Yamaha is the easiest bike, Lorenzo said it today, is it worrying to think about leaving it?
“Changes are always worrying, that's obvious. It is certainly a factor that I will take into consideration when it is time to choose, but it will only be one factor together with many others."
Apart from the results, looking in the mirror, where do you position yourself among the MotoGP riders?
“Especially in the last races of last year, I am someone who is there to bother the factory riders, close to the podium. The three strongest riders were Marquez, Quartararo and Vinales. Marc was the best in all aspects, even mentally he was at the centre of the world. Fabio and Maverick were as strong as he was in some cases, but they had a hard time making it because Marquez had a very large margin. Behind them, all the others."
What is your goal for this year?
“I simply would like to get better results. I worked well in the winter and from tomorrow I will also have to do it in the garage to get to Qatar fully ready. "
Where do you need to improve?
“This sport is made of speed, to be a good rider you have to be a fast rider. Then there are other characteristics, you have to be constant, and not make mistakes, but if you are fast then you have margin in many other aspects".