From the rags of Mugello, to the riches of Barcelona. In Italy, the Yamahas, and particularly Valentino, appeared to be lost in a tunnel with no way out, yet in Spain the blue armada is fighting back. There are four M1s in the top six on tomorrow's grid, a positive result for Yamaha.
Rossi is pleased with 5th (now 4th following Maverick's penalty) and is honest: “when I'm desperate I use my marketing smile, but not today” he jokes.
There's no point asking if today's result is positive.
“Seeing all the Yamahas competitive is great news for us. Today was a good day, I was able to be quick and maintain a good pace. It was easier this morning in cooler temperatures, we suffered a little more this afternoon but the same goes for everyone”.
How can you explain this transformation?
“The Yamaha is a difficult bike to understand, we've had many highs and lows. Why? Perhaps our rivals are setting times along the straight, while we do it through the turns, so their performance is less affected by temperatures changes. But I'm not sure really (he laughs)”.
You should enjoy the moment…
“This result is important because the last races have been difficult. It was essential to get straight through to Q2, or it's all more difficult. I think I could have been even quicker actually”.
What are you thinking re tyres?
“We need to consider our choice, it will be key for the race. Everyone tried different front and rear combos today and the choice is wide open. I mean you can race with any of the rear solutions”.
A good strategy is needed, something Marquez looked to be seeking when he followed you in qualifying…
“Marc is not just fast but also smart, he knows who to follow, he studies his rivals and calculates every move. When you find him behind you in qualifying, he gives you no choice - either you continue with him in your slipstream or you lose your lap. I decided to carry out and it was the right decision”.
What do you think about Marquez using the slipstream so often?
“Perhaps he doesn't have enough experience and needs to learn the trajectories. Joking aside, he's smart like I said, he tries to find your weak points, your strong points too. We're all close in qualifying, so it's a fight to the death, and a tow can give you those few tenths that make the difference between the third and first row”.
You returned the favour by spying on him during the practice start…
“I was curious to see how the Honda worked, what you see on the dash, simple curiosity (he smiles)”.
Are you curious to see how tomorrow will go?
"The race is all that counts in the end. We knew the Yamaha could be quick in practice. We usually suffer with the heat, but this weekend that goes for everyone. I hope for a group race with some changes in pace because... it's less tiring and more fun (he laughs)”.
Morbidelli will start ahead of you, are you getting used to seeing him as a rival?
“Franco did really well, a crash like that always has consequences. He immediately got his confidence back and I congratulate him. He's my friend but tomorrow we're simply rivals”.
Lastly, how do you explain the lack of grip?
“Last year there was a lot because the asphalt was new, it's incredible how much it has dropped in one year, In the end, you always spend the weekend at Barcelona looking for grip and you never find it, you just have to live with it”.