Tenth place in the standings at the end of the three-day test at Sepang is perhaps not the result he wanted, but Valentino Rossi has decided to see the glass half full after completing the first official MotoGP tests of 2019. He may not have out over the single lap, but he has received more important confirmations.
Yamaha brought various new parts and Rossi has spent time with the new work group, some new faces having arrived after a long period of instability
"This test was important- explains Valentino - because we had to try and work with new staff. A good work group, with good ideas, but it will take time because we have a lot of catching up to do".
How do things lie as this test ends, do you think anything has changed with respect to 2018?
"I think we're in the same position as before, because after three days of dry weather, the track was very fast and everyone showed their full potential, four Ducatis are up front. My position is not fantastic in the end, because I made mistakes on my fast lap, I could have been a little further ahead but it doesn't really matter. In the sense that we've worked very hard again today, finding some good things, some less good. I hoped that a few other things would work too. But I'm pleased because something is moving, they are working in Yamaha".
Perhaps one of the most impressive today was Bagnaia.
"Pecco was impressive on the flying lap, well done! I hope he's a bit slower in terms of pace. His potential? If you consider that he's always been fast in testing and has set a 1'58.3 here, with very little experience on the bike, I'd say we need to keep an eye on him".
Morbidelli was also faster than you. How are you going to deal with these 'pupils' of yours?
"I'll try to poison them! (he laughs) I think it will be hard because Franco an I have similar performance while Pecco today... I think it'll be hard to stick in front of him. When we began the Academy project with Pecco and Franco, I didn't think we'd reach this point. I didn't expect our riders to go on to beat me. On the one hand, I'm worried, while on the other hand I'm pleased because it means the Academy is working. This is how it is, we help riders to beat me. We can't go back now".
But overall a positive test?
"The positive is that in 2018 when Yamaha brought new elements we couldn't understand if they were better or worse. This time, we've tested things that are better, and some that are worse, but at least we have direction".
You and Vinales formed a tandem today. How did that go?
"It was interesting to lap with Maverick. First I went ahead, then we swapped, it was a good simulation at a good pace. This is positive because lapping together you see many interesting things. It was Vinales' idea, he asked if we should do it and I agreed".
The impression is that while Vinales is pleased with progress, you are perhaps less happy.
"Vinales has been very strong here I think, but he's still fifth. I'm a little worried if I consider what would happen if we raced tomorrow. I think we're still behind, but as I've said at least we've tried some better material, they are focused in Yamaha but it will take time".
Will you have anything new at Qatar?
"The Qatar tests are in ten days. I don't think we'll have anything new by then. Vut it's another track, the temperature is different so it will be interesting. The important thing is that over the last two years we'd got a little lost, but now we have a direction".