The twenty-first place from which Valentino Rossi will start the Doha Grand Prix tomorrow is quite simply and utterly mercilessly his worst qualifying result in 26 years of career and 416 races. He had actually only fared worse on two occasions: in 2004 in Qatar and in 2015 in Valencia, when he was last, but on both occasions his position was decided by two penalties. Today however, it was the stopwatch that decided.
“Very difficult today because I was never strong – was the Doctor's disconsolate summary - We tried to improve the feeling with the bike, with the rear, but I suffered very much. I have a lack of grip in acceleration and also after some laps anyway. I suffer a lot and my pace is not good. Also, in the qualifying with the new tyre, I never have the feeling to be fast enough.”
Are the problems always the same?
“Yes, with the rear tyre. I stress it too much: it overheats, starts vibrating and I can't push ”.
Here in Qatar you can only use the soft compound, can this be a limit for you?
“In Losail the choice is always this and the tyres are the same for everyone. If the other riders are able to use them then I have to do it too, it's not a tyre problem. "
How can your performance have changed so much in just one week?
“Last week I was good with the new tyres, and like this we tried to do something to improve the life but unfortunately I’m not fast enough. It will be difficult, I have to start from behind. We have to understand and we will see.”
Will you take a step back in the setup for the race?
“For tomorrow it’s difficult because I start behind, but I’m a lot in trouble with the pace, the pace is not fast enough. So, I need to try to stay with the group of the guys in front.”
Everything seems to have changed in a few days…
“It demonstrates that everything can change in a week, even if we race on the same track. Of course I'm not happy, my goal is to be competitive, but I have big problems. I've been suffering from it for a while, I lack grip. It's not an easy situation, last Saturday it was good but then I struggled in the race. We need to understand why ”.
Are you more angry or disappointed?
“My team and I try to give our best, but getting angry only wastes time. I'm definitely not happy, I'm trying to change my riding style but I can't be fast. We'll see if tomorrow will go better ”.
Does your brother's performance console you a little?
"Luca was very good, he took a good step forward and came close to Q2".