Three days of testing in Qatar have failed to remove the doubts from Valentino's mind, on the contrary they increased them. After Sepang he seemed to have found the right direction, the Italian solving the old problems with the tyres over race distance, but the Losail track has called everything into question. Twelfth quickest time is not the problem, because Rossi has always cared little about the overall winter test classification, but it is his race pace that does not satisfy him.
Before leaving the circuit, the Doctor was unable to hide his negative impressions.
"Today I am a bit worried, not so much about the position, because I crashed while I was using the second new tyre and I think I could have improved my time, but for my race pace" he explained.
Can you go into detail?
“I tried to do a few consecutive laps, but I had problems with the tyres similar to last year. After a few laps, unfortunately, I have to slow down; that's not good news and it leaves me a bit worried. In the second part of the race I go into crisis with the tyres and my pace is not very fast. Now the tests are over, and we will see what will happen in the race, where the situation is always different."
Do you have an explanation?
“We don't understand exactly what is happening. In Malaysia it was hot, Sepang is a demanding track for tyres because you are on lean angle for a long time, but everything went well, instead here in Qatar I had more problems. We have about ten days to work and analyse the data. Between the two tests, it was better for me in Malaysia. Not only because I finished in 5th place but also because I had a fast pace. Here I am a little further behind."
Have you tried looking for the answer in the telemetry of the other Yamaha riders?
“From the data it is not clear why. Maverick, Fabio and Franco are similar to me in their fast lap, but then they manage to be more consistent, we have to understand why. Today I did about ten laps in a row three times, we need to analyse all the information".
Quartararo said that the 2020 M1 is a bit more complicated to manage, can that have an effect?
"I don't think so, I also had the same problems with last year's bike."
Are there any positive aspects?
“I feel good with the M1, I am quite fast in the early laps, but not enough to aim for victory. In these winter tests Vinales, Quartararo, Rins were all very fast, they seem to me the most in form. The Ducatis also seem to have improved, I am not too far from them".
What about Marquez? Today he used the old bike.
"He went well, it means that the 2019 bike is better than the 2020 one (laughs)".
A lot of riders went fast.
“It's incredible, there are 12 riders in less than half a second, it's like Moto2 (laughs). It's great for the championship and for the fans, because there is a big balance between different riders and bikes."
Audio recorded by Marco Caregnato