On the eve of the Austin GP weekend, Franco Morbidelli received a great deal of attention. The Roman rider from Tavullia seemed to have reborn in Termas de Rio Hondo on the Yamaha M1, but he struggled more than expected in Texas. Friday’s rankings put him in 16th place, more than a second from the top, with a gap of seven-tenths from his teammate, Fabio Quartararo (7th). Too many. With the renewal of his contract at stake, Morbido will have to invent something to get out of the Q1 unscathed and get closer to the best.
“On Friday, we struggled to improve enough to enter the top ten,” the 2017 Moto World Champion admitted. “I needed a reference point in front of me. Also, in the second time attack, I made a couple of mistakes, while the first one wasn’t good enough. We have to recuperate at least half a second.”
Despite the progress recorded thanks to Engineer Luca Marmorini’s intervention, both Yamaha M1s didn’t appear very incisive (again) on the stretches at the Circuit of The Americas: “We were not in shape, even from that point of view, even if it wasn’t the main aspect of today. Our opponents manage to deliver power more naturally.”
And he added: “Compared to the Ducati, we especially suffer in acceleration.”
Waiting for the official qualifications, tomorrow’s third practice session will be crucial for Yamaha, in order to identify an ideal set-up for the bike. An inconvenience that both Quartararo and Morbidelli are dealing with: “Maybe we tested a bit too much. When you’re away from the riders up front, you have to work to try to bridge the gap. Until you’re up there, it’s hard to say you’ve found a good foundation. You’ll never find one being seventh,” he concluded.