Valentino Rossi does not want to go into the episode the led to Marc’s penalty, “I didn’t see what happened between Marquez and Viñales and I don’t want to create controversy” he says. Undoubtedly, this was direct notice for everyone and a demonstration that he wants to change his attitude, although perhaps this case is slightly specious.
Even the Doctor seems to have some doubts: “Last year, they summoned me too for a dubious incident. In qualifying it’s difficult because you are focused on yourself and sometimes you don’t realise that you have someone behind you.”
Rossi does not want to insist too much on what happened in qualifying. If anything, he wants assurance that Race Direction has changed the yardstick in their assessment of contact between the riders; exactly what was discussed in Safety Commission.
“It was nice to talk and discuss things - he explains - The most important thing that came out of Safety Commission is that Race Direction will be more severe and precise in the case of contact, especially in the race. We’ll see how it works.”
The first chance to see will be tomorrow in the Austin race, for which the Doctor has some hopes.
“Both yesterday and today, I was rather fast and I always maintained a good pace - he points out - I feel good on this track with the M1. I’m able to ride well and I have fun, which is the most important thing. I would have liked to start from the front row. I could have done it, but maybe on a couple of braking sections I didn’t push hard enough and they beat me. Starting in the first 5 is still good. It is my best qualifying session of the season.”
But it is not enough, especially in the kingdom of Marquez.
“We still need to improve some details on the bike and then hope that it’s a dry race - he continues - Right now, from what I saw in FP4, Marquez and Viñales are still faster than I am. Then there will be a savage group for the podium: Iannone, Zarco, Crutchlow and I and maybe some others.”
The question is whether or not Yamaha has finally found the solution and left the past behind.
“Last year I struggled a lot because of the frame. I didn’t like it - he recalls - The other problem, maybe the biggest one, was that in the second half of the season, Honda and Ducati had taken a big step forward with the electronics. They were better than us at figuring out which direction to go. On the 2018 M1 I feel better, on the same levels as the best years, but to progress with the electronics we need more time. On this track we were able to work well and I think we’ll be able to be more competitive.”
What is still lacking?
“Ducati and Honda invested a lot of money and manpower in working on the electronics, whereas Yamaha maybe not enough. We are a bit behind, but it seems like we can work better now” he assures.