Rossi hesitant on predicting improvement in Europe

Valentino Rossi. Picture: MotoGP.com

Valentino Rossi is hesitant about predicting an improvement in form when the MotoGP season resumes in Europe after leaving Qatar with just four points to his name.

The seven-time premier class world champion sits 14th in the standings after finishes of 12th and then 16th in the two races at Losail, the latter of which he qualified a career-worst 21st for.

Monster Energy Yamaha team-mates Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo collected the wins in Qatar, on the same, latest-specification M1s that Rossi rides out of SRT.

With Portimao coming up in the middle of this month, the Italian was asked if he expected better form in Europe.

“I don’t know, because every year changes a lot,” he responded.

“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.”

Rossi claims to have made something of a set-up breakthrough during the Doha Grand Prix, the most recent event, but it came after his lowly grid position was set in stone.

“[In the race] we found some different settings for the electronics where I could stay with the pace more constantly,” he added.

“Unfortunately, we found it just in the morning and my position in the start was very bad.

“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.”

Among the changes from the Qatar Grand Prix to the Doha GP was the switch from a carbon fibre swingarm to aluminium.

According to Rossi, that produced an improvement with respect to rear tyre consumption, although the problem remained.

“We used the aluminium swingarm because I suffered a lot of rear vibration, after some laps the tyre suffers too much and starts to vibrate a lot,” he explained.

“So, with the aluminium it’s a bit better. I have anyway the vibration, but it’s more controllable.”

Rear tyre wear has been a common problem for ‘The Doctor’ in recent seasons.

Yamaha designed its 2021 chassis to be more similar to the 2019 version, which Franco Morbidelli put to good effect last year, but Rossi does not think the chassis is the cause of the issue.

“No, I don’t think it’s the chassis,” he said.

“It’s not a big difference and the new chassis helps a little bit to turn but it’s not enough.”

The Portuguese Grand Prix takes place on April 16-18.

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