MotoGP, Franco Morbidelli: “There are more important things than races”

Morbidelli prepares for MotoGP 2021. Franco does not hide his ambitions but he underlines that this is just a game and he talks about the relationship with Valentino Rossi

Franco Morbidelli and Petronas SRT do not hide their ambitions for the 2021 MotoGP season. Both the Italian and the team are aware of the great work done last year and, after winning the title of vice-champions, they dream for the upcoming season. No pre-tactic, but the awareness that being at the top again this year will not be easy. ‘Franky’ is also preparing to experience a special 2021: alongside him, there will be his mentor-friend Valentino Rossi, it is a special emotion to have him as a teammate.

“I hope to be able to do better than last year. I’m loosening exactly as I did a year ago, if not even better.” Morbidelli begins in the zoom session dedicated to media. “I have more knowledge of myself and more confidence in my means, as well as knowing even more about the package available. There is always room for improvement. I will try to do better than last season. I don’t know if I’ll succeed, but I’ll try ”.

“I don’t want to give preset answers. In 2020 we had a great championship and I felt great with the bike. Nobody expected me to reach this level”. Morbidelli underlines how something has changed from 2019 to 2020. “I took this job more seriously and I started training more and better. The attitude I held then materialized in the results and I really like this. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I enjoy it so much also thanks to how I was paid off ”.

“I don’t like the general trend of today’s MotoGP”

The Petronas rider is not only the favorite of popular opinion but also of some of his colleagues. “The fact that other riders recognize my worth makes me proud and this gives me a responsibility”. Franco then points the finger a little at the current contractual system. “Yamaha’s approach to me has always been very good and I got along well with all the people. I have great respect for Lin (Jarvis) and Maio (Meregalli). I understand their choices and I don’t blame them. I’d rather blame the general trend of today’s MotoGP. The trend is to anticipate choices a lot and surprises of this type can happen, or that a rider who you thought was not as good as me suddenly finds you the favorite for the world championship the following year “.

“I will try to replicate the performances. If I succeed I will be able to fight for the title or in any case for the positions that count at the end of the championship. The gap, assuming there is, will remain similar compared to the past year and to other competitors. I hope that I will have to put something extra in it and not the bike”. It will be crucial not to make mistakes. “We can improve on some technical aspects. Some races have escaped us due to problems of this kind. We will have to take more care of the details so as not to throw away important points ”.

“2019 was a stimulus for 2020”

Reasons do not change, however, and Morbidelli highlights how a tortuous 2019 helped him to emerge. “I will be motivated like last year. 2019 has been frustrating as a rider and I think that feeling pushed me to come up with something unexpected. I will try to use this type of feeling again, maybe in a positive way, I hope it works again ”. Franco will still ride with the ‘old’ bike and proving Yamaha that he deserves the same treatment could be an extra incentive. “There will be small updates that can help us. The bike will remain the same”.

“I try not to think about the contractual junction. I don’t think it helps me to work better. My team is in contact with Yamaha and I know that the contract will expire at the end of 2021. I try not to think about these things, I cannot control them. Our boss will take care of it and I know he will do it very well. I am sure that Razlan will do a great job as usual and the best choice for the team. Consequently, it will be the best decision for me too ”.

The 2020 vice-champion then analyzes his rivals. “Ducati did very well at the end of last season with Jack (Miller) and I expect the Suzukis will be fast too. The first teams that come to mind are them ”. Then he reflects on the personal aspects to improve. “We will try to be more effective on the flying lap. I did two pole positions last year, but we need to improve in qualifying. I will try to concentrate more and at the same time I will try to take a step forward in all the other areas ”.

“With Valentino Rossi, I will try to remain fair and correct”

In 2021 he will share the garage with the teacher-friend, Valentino Rossi. “I try to be fair with all my friends, not just with Vale. Valentino is a great friend, maybe even something more, but I hope to be fair and just in every aspect of my life with him. We will race against each other, nothing will change. We will be able to help each other with an exchange of personal information on the races and on the bike, it could be an advantage spending a lot of time together ”.

What happens on the track, however, is one thing, what happens in everyday life is another. “We are playing for something big, but we must remember that nothing is like friendship and love. This is just a game, a game with high stakes, but still a game. It will be important to remember this when we fight against each other and I hope it will happen “.

“When we train together I think we are able to understand something more about the characters of the others. It doesn’t just happen between the two of us, but also with all the guys at the Academy. By spending a lot of time together we see how we behave in certain situations. Obviously then when you race in Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP it’s different, everything becomes more serious and almost all of us give something more ”. Morbidelli then recalls how many times Rossi believed in him. “He bet on me when I was nobody and when I struggled in the first year in MotoGP. I think Vale had an idea about me right from training and brought that idea to the world of racing too, the real ones. “

 “I don’t know what you think of his ‘students’, but I think he feels decidedly proud. Obviously not only with me but also with Luca (Marini), Bezzecchi, and all the other guys”. Franco then comments on the statement of his boss Razlan Razali who compared him to an artist. “I’d rather be a musician, I feel more involved in that world than painting”.

“I don’t know when Marc Marquez will be back, but he will be strong”

“Marc Marquez has had a serious injury, perhaps the worst he has ever seen from a top sportsman. Getting back to maximum will be difficult, but not impossible. I do not know the extent of his injury and the pain he is experiencing, but from a mental point of view I can say that it could have repercussions. We are human, we remember bad things and what they led to. I don’t know when he’ll be back, but he’s a tough guy and when we see him back on track he’ll be competitive and strong ”.

Qatar next: two races and two tests will be held on the Losail track. “It can alter the values and by going around so much we will all be very close. It will be interesting to understand how the ranking will move, making a difference will be very difficult and the working margin will be small and reduced. We are talking about two particular races, there is no doubt “.

But will there be a number 1 in the box? Petronas relies heavily on Morbidelli in his statements: “I’m sure there isn’t a number 1 and a number 2, the riders are treated very well and in the same way. I did better than Valentino in 2020, but he did better than mine in his entire career! The team was good at treating me and Fabio and I will do the same with me and Valentino ”.

Morbidelli then reveals that he got a little hurt in training. “At the ranch I haven’t been seen in the photos lately because I didn’t do the final races. I fell into an American and I felt some pain in my ankle. So I skipped the last few Americans to avoid falling again and hurting myself even more ”.


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