It's not common to see the technical manager of a company meeting with the media and publicly apologising to his riders for a bike's lack of performance. It happened today though, Yamaha project leader Tsuya accepting technical responsibility for the poor results just a few minutes before Valentino was due to meet with the press.
The Doctor appreciated the gesture, but is holding firm with his requrests.
“I view this apology very positively and thank Tsuya for having done that, but, rather than apologies, we need to sort our bike. We need results, and quickly, because we're behind compared to Honda and Ducati”.
Are you referring to the electronics?
“Yes and I'd like to take a step forward before the end of the season. I think the bike has a good bike, in terms of the mechanics, and if we could improve the electronics, we'd be on a par with Honda and Ducati”.
What has happened in recent year?
“Up until 2015, when we were using the software developed internally, we were ok. The problems began in 2016, with the arrival of the single ECU, I think our technicians struggle to interface with the Magneti Marelli software”.
Do you think internal restructuring is required
“I'm not in charge of organisation. I know that I didn't like the M1's frame last year, while the current one is very good. We haven't been able to take that step with the electronics, a step that Ducati and Honda have taken. This is our problem”.
Do you think this is Yamaha's toughest period to date?
“When I arrived in 2004 things were much worse, but the reaction was great, with a lot of investment, both financial and human. In one year we developed the best M1 I've ever ridden, that of 2005. We need to do the same now”.
Are you going backwards rather than forwards?
“As I've said, I've been saying the same things to the Japanese for a long time and one year later everything's the same. How long will it take to see a turnaround? I'd like to answer this question, but it's not me you should be asking. We'll see”.
Today was a disaster, the only saving grace was Zarco…
“It depends on the track, one week ago we were on the front row and today row five. This track is critical for the rear tyre and, in these conditions, Zarco benefits from his particular riding style and his weight. While in Brno it was he who was in trouble”.
You were faster last year…
“It's true, but this time the soft tyre is softer than a year ago, too soft for us. Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to use the medium like Dovizioso”.
You guessed this would be a tough track, did you think it would be this bad?
“It's the worst on the calendar for us, but to be honest I though we'd struggle less. I was unlucky too, because FP1 turned out to be the only session in which to qualify for Q2, but my bike broke and I didn't get on well with the second bike. Today we worked in FP4, but my pace isn't fantastic”.
Then came qualifying…
“And I suffered with the soft rear tyre, as I've said. I'll start from the fifth row, the first three braking points are tough and I'll have to be careful in the middle of the group. I'll try something in warm-up, then I'll do all I can to score as many points as possible”.