Bitterness and disappointment with a hint of veiled resignation. Certainly, this was not the Mugello that Valentino Rossi was expecting, just like his yellow fans who hoped to see him on the podium.
One of those weekends that should be forgotten for number 46, which began with being condemned to the Q1, then missing the Q2 and, finally, the fall that closed the circle on this black weekend. The Doctor's analysis starts with the slip that brought the curtain down on his Sunday.
"I tried to pass Mir, but he closed me off, then we touched each other, coming long," he explained. "Then we both got back on the track. At the Arrabbiata 2, I had some problems with the hard tire, like all the other Yamahas. Unfortunately, in that stretch, the front locked up due to the bumps, and I ended up falling. Maybe I entered slightly faster than usual."
Rossi's attention then focuses on the difficulties encountered, starting from the practice sessions.
"In the last two races, I thought I was competitive. Instead, we were very late," he admitted. "On Friday, we tried to improve the bike, especially the acceleration, since we would've liked to fight to win the races and get on the podium. After all, we are tTeam Factory, and this is our job. Unfortunately, both here and at Le Mans, we haven't solved anything. Among other things, it had rained in France on Saturday morning, and I had to switch from the Q1. The FP3 at Mugello was my best session but, unfortunately, I made a mistake. On the last lap, I was four-tenths faster. Without that error, I would have finished sixth in the round, finishing in the Q2 and, consequently, I would not be here talking about these things now. Obviously, we will try to be faster in the practice sessions starting from the next GP."
Meanwhile, the competition continues to race ahead, while Yamaha is forced to pursue.
"Unfortunately, we haven't managed to improve in recent years, we just take small steps. We need something more serious, given that, to some respect, the gap is really big compared to the other bikes."
At this point, the only solution would be to try to make the most of the bike, rather than resorting to miracles.
"We're not looking for a miracle," he pointed out."We try to work where we have problems, like electronics and acceleration. After the tests at Jerez, we tried some things, taking them to the other tracks. The fact is that, during the weekend, you focus only on what you have available. Maybe you gain in speed, but then you lose in other sectors."
Rossi then retraces the last few years, focusing on the difficulties.
"Up until the first half of 2016, our bike was the strongest. In fact, in 2015, I was up against Jorge for the title with the Bridgestones, taking home 600 points in two," he recalled."The fact is that, from the second half of 2016, the other teams have made important progress, confirming themselves in the following season, and we were late. I think this was the problem."
There are those who think that the problem may derive from the lack of support from valid engineers in Japan.
"The best Japanese engineers are always present, apart from Tsuji, who was not here on this occasion, but there was Takano. They continue to work, but honestly, I don't know what to expect as far as development is concerned, even if I'm still confident. With regard to speed and the engine, this is the situation, given that we cannot intervene a great deal."
Despite the debacle in Tuscany, Rossi isn't entirely discouraged.
"I was very happy and close to a victory in Austin. Now, instead, it's harder. Like I said, you have to stay focused, not give up and work. The fans don't have to worry."
Meanwhile, his mind is already on Barcelona, scheduled in two weeks.
"I really like Catalonia, but this also applied to Le Mans and Mugello, like Assen. These are the circuits I prefer. The only thing is maintain concentration and make no mistakes during the tests. Obviously, I'll have to work to improve the bike and try different solutions as much as possible. In this situation, it becomes very difficult to fight for the podium in Spain."
On the day the Doctor was forced to pull out, Danilo Petrucci triumphed in front of his audience.
"I'm very happy for Danilo. We have a great relationship, and he's a good guy. Winning at Mugello with Ducati is the next best thing that can happen to you after a World Championship. Seeing him in tears on the podium, I almost started to cry too. I'm also happy for my brother, Luca. Seeing him happy is already extreme for him." he joked.
The last thing concerns possible regrets for not remaining in Ducati, given the current level reached by this team.
"I don't have any. Ducati did really well. That was in 2012, when I was their rider, and I would have had to wait too long. In the end, it's better this way."
Audio recorded by Paolo Scalera