Yesterday was a bad day for Valentino, at the end of a day when he seemed to have lost his way. But, today, things were looking brighter and going in the right direction. The 4th in the standings (which becomes the 5th over three days) means that the Doctor has made peace with his M1. A very important advancement, considering that the championship will start in just over a week.
"You never get to the first race as ready as you'd like to be, but today was a positive day," as he breathes a sigh of relief. "I managed to keep a good pace, and I was fast enough even on the flying lap."
So, everything is good?
"I think we still need something more to go against the best, but we managed to shorten the disadvantage a lot. In less than two weeks, we'll find out if it'll be enough."
What caused this change from one day to the next?
"I took a step back . We had worked a lot yesterday, but I maybe ended up trying too many different things, so I lost confidence. We basically worked hard and didn't solve anything. Today, I put everything I liked in the Sepang tests on the bike, and it worked. Even if I had to stay in the pit for an hour because of a problem, but I was competitive."
In the combined times, the 4 Yamahas are in the first 7 positions...
"That's a positive thing. Maverick went very fast in the flying lap, as did Morbidelli and Quartararo. I'd say that, in this sense, we're doing well, but, as far as the pace is concerned, we're still at a disadvantage."
Like on the straight...
"Yamaha has been struggling with maximum speed since 2004 (he laughs). Joking aside, I found myself behind the Ducati, and I can remain in their wake. As I said, in general, we've made improvements, but we have to continue to progress."
How would you judge this winter?
"Positively, since we finally saw something. New parts arrived, and now we mustn't stop."
Thinking about the GP, who do you see as a favorite?
"Vinales is in great shape, and Rins is very fast. Suzuki has improved. The official Ducatis will be in the game, and Petrucci surprised me. Then, of course, there's Marquez."
What about you?
"I don't know, we'll see (he laughs)".