Franco Morbidelli was the man to beat today in Barcelona, finishing Friday with the best time in the combined sessions achieved despite a crash that could have jeopardized his day. However, the Yamaha rider managed to get back on the track, confirming the form he showed above all during the first round at Misano, given that in the second he was physically weakened and was not able to produce his best.
In addition to the excellent speed shown on the track, the weekend in Barcelona also brought Morbidelli confirmation of news that had been abundantly in the air for months. Valentino Rossi will be his teammate in 2021 and it was very interesting to hear from the pupil himself, what it means to welcome his master to the team at this stage of his career.
" I’ve never really thought about what it means to have Rossi in the squad with me in 2021, I suppose I should think about it - commented Morbidelli – for sure, being the teammate of a rider, of a legend like Valentino Rossi is really great and cool. Something that I will remember all my life. But in my opinion, it is something that only me and a few others will remember, because in any case I don't think people will remember Valentino Rossi's teammate, at the most they will remember the team that Valentino Rossi was in.".
Rossi defined the relationship he has with you very different from the one he has with Bagnaia. What do you think?
"I saw the interview in which Rossi talked about the different relationship he has with me and with Pecco and I laughed a lot. It's the same thing I feel, in the sense that in my opinion Vale and I are so close, that we have a special relationship. Then we ride the same bike, so we have no filters between us. If during the weekend one of us has a freak-out, because maybe he is in front of me or vice versa, we will see. I know him very well and I see that he wants to improve and get ahead of me. The same goes for him, because he knows me just as well and sees that I want to improve and beat him. I really like the competitiveness that exists between me and Vale, even when we train at the Ranch, when we are close, there is a different level of competitiveness when it is me and him ".
Do you like having such a strong competitive spirit between you?
"I like this a lot, because it's great to be able to have this level of confidence with Vale and be able to show him everything, to be able to show him when you're frustrated or angry because he beats you. Both in the Ranch and here in the race. If he beats me, I'm angry, and I try to improve also to stay in front of him and he does the same thing. Not that with Pecco there is not this level of competitiveness, but in my opinion because of the fact that Vale and I ride the same bike and have known each other for so long and also the fact that he taught me so many of the things I know makes him want to keep his leadership over me. I am the one who comes from below, who wants to show that I have learned from him and also that I can beat him, this puts us in a great condition. There are absolutely no filters between me and Vale, it's a great condition. It makes me feel even more united with him. "
You are friends, but you will be teammates. And in the sport of motorcycling, the teammate is the first opponent you have to beat…
"The best battles you have with your worst enemies or your best friends. With people who are in limbo in between, you fight but you don't feel the battles as you do with your worst enemy or best friend."
Let's talk about the present. Are you the man to beat here in Barcelona?
"I feel strong here, hard to say how much. When you are first it's always a good feeling and a good thing. Hard to say how much I am compared to the other races, for sure we started well. This morning Fabio went very fast with the new medium tyre, so in my opinion it is too early to say that I am the man to beat. We are certainly at the front, but I would wait ".
By now you know the M1 perfectly…
"We worked really well with the team; we have the experience to understand how to get the most out of the bike quickly. With Ramon Forcada I made the right steps in the right way. We know that cornering speed is the strong point of our bike and we know how to take advantage of this to make the most of the M1. It seems that the layout of the track and particularly the last corner are not a big problem for our top speed. This is great news for us. I think however that it’s early to understand how things really are, it's only Friday. But it is clear that today I was very strong, I still have to work to see if I can be as fast as I was at Brno and Misano. "