Rossi endured a tingling brace of races at Losail to begin the season, the nine-time grand prix world winner emerging out of the Qatar Grand Prix 12th with qualified fourth — also came away in the Doha round without issues in 16th having enrolled his worst ever qualifying result of 21st.
This came on a backdrop of the factory Yamaha pair Maverick Vinales and Rossi’s replacement Fabio Quartararo storming to victory in both Qatar races on the same 2021-specification M1. The upcoming European races are set to be crucial for Rossi in determining on extending his career into 2022, while performance criteria in his Yamaha contract must be fulfilled before talks are even entertained.
“I don’t know, because every year changes a lot,” Rossi said when asked if he expected his form to improve in the forthcoming European races. “Anyway, in Europe there is a lot of good tracks for me. So, we hope that when we come back in Europe we can be stronger.
“[In the race] we discovered a number of settings for the electronics where I could remain with the speed more constantly. Unfortunately, we discovered it only in the afternoon and my position in the beginning was really bad.
Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“Now it’s difficult because all the riders, all the bikes are strong and being within 10 seconds [from the win] you are 15th. We have to see the other race tracks starting from Portimao, we’ll try to understand if we are more competitive.”
Teammate Franco Morbidelli had a similarly hard time in Qatar, ending last weekend Doha GP 12th having fought across the two rounds for pace on his’A-spec’ Yamaha.
The Italian states he reverted to a set up base he used at the start of 2020 for its Doha race, but that triggered problems with tyre life that he battled at the beginning of last season and left him 12th at the chequered flag.
“We did a big modification, we went back to a configuration similar to 2020 beginning of the year,” he explained. “In the race, the race was better than last one for sure. I was engaged and I was able to fight.
“Starting from 10th position rather than getting the fastest bike in the pack was really tough to struggle the guys, but at least I had the opportunity to take action. But the similar problems to the beginning of 2020, so I fought to maintain a good pace to the end, I finished the tyre too soon.”