There are two futures for Valentino: the immediate, or rather the season that is set to start in Qatar in a few weeks' time, and the more remote, or rather the contract renewal with Yamaha after 2018. With Vinales and Marquez having already signed, the Doctor should now do so shortly, something he has confirmed in Qatar.
The question regarded the possibility of seeing VR46 in MotoGP, now that Tech3 has left two Yamahas available.
“The situation is clear - responded Rossi - Firstly, I didn't expect Poncharal to leave Yamaha, then we considered a possible team in MotoGP. It would have been great but we won't do it. For the next two years we won't do it, also because it's very likely I'll be racing. I see it as a possibility for the future, once I've stopped but not in 2019 or 2020”.
As if to say that there is an agreement with Yamaha and that Valentino will be staying put, on the M1 for another two years. In the meantime though, he needs to think about the immediate future. After Buriram, Yamaha appeared to be in crisis but things are looking up in Qatar.
“In the end I'm 6th, so I'm not doing somersaults of joy, but I'm three tenths from the front and that's not bad. A good first day, but to run at the front we need to improve”.
The situation is clearly very different to Thailand, but how come?
“I think it depends more on the track, the M1 works well here and we also have good tyre grip. But the bike is exactly the same as what we used two weeks ago in Thailand, where we had more problems. This means that this year we'll again be dealing with differences in performance from one track to the next”.
The problem is that it's not clear which tracks are favourable and which will prove more taxing.
“No-one knows what tracks are better for the M1, because it doesn't just come down to the track but the marriage between the bike, the tyres and the type of asphalt. I think it's difficult to talk about friendly tracks for the Yamaha, like those with fast corners or others where we suffer more, we just have to get there and see what happens”.
In the meantime, they need to roll up their sleeves.
“There is still work to do, on both the frame and the electronics. We'll analyse the data and tomorrow we'll have some small things to test, then we'll focus on set-up to find better bike balance”.
Also because Rossi has some issues with the tyres today.
"I had a few problems with the front tyre. After a few laps it would get worse and I'd have to slow down. It's not unusual at this track and has a lot to do with the bike set-up and balance so tomorrow we'll work on that. Then we need to focus on the electronics to try to get the tyres working well, something we failed to do in Thailand. We went well at Sepang, then at Buriram we struggled and here it's better, it depends a lot on the track”.
There are only two days of testing left, will that be enough?
“The most important thing is that the bike is working well, not doing 10 days of testing. Today, after 5 laps, I quickly set a good time, but it would be good to find a base that also allows to do well at tracks where we suffer”.