Morbidelli: When Rossi feels problems, I do too

'We have a similar riding style, so maybe yes. When [Rossi] feels some problems, I feel them too' - Franco Morbidelli, Dutch MotoGP.
Morbidelli: When Rossi feels problems, I do too

Yamaha's unpredictable MotoGP season took a further twist at Assen with a clear split in the performance of its four riders in qualifying and the race.

While the manufacturer celebrated pole position and victory courtesy of Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales respectively, Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi were far from the front.

The satellite Petronas team outpacing the factory squad - especially in practice and qualifying - is no longer a shock, but Assen was more curious in that one rider from each team, using different specs of machine, excelled.

Rookie Quartararo took back-to-back poles and podiums on the lower spec M1, while Vinales took the factory spec machine to Yamaha's first victory of the season.

But that same bike was only ninth and 14th on the grid in the hands of Morbidelli and Rossi in qualifying. And while Rossi's early accident meant his race pace was unknown, countryman and training partner Morbidelli went on to finish over 14-seconds from Vinales.

"We have a similar riding style, so maybe yes," said Morbidelli, when asked about a link between his and Rossi's performances. "When he feels some problems, I feel them too. But I hope that we’re both going to be fast in the next races."

While Morbidelli, competing in his second MotoGP season, was expected to lead the new Petronas Yamaha project - emphasized by a factory-spec bike - it is Quartararo who has stolen the limelight.

"We just are focusing on ourselves and trying to do our best. I know that watching Fabio it seems very easy and natural. But on our side we struggle a bit more for some reasons," Morbidelli said.

"We focused basically on ourselves and tried to improve our package, ride at the maximum and finally we managed to get through the weekend quite well."

Indeed, unlike earlier rounds where he had been fast in qualifying but faded in the race, the Italian's Assen weekend ended on a high as he snatched fifth from Ducati's Danilo Petrucci at the final chicane, matching his best MotoGP finish.

"It was a really nice race. Maybe not my best, but when you are fast at the end of the race it’s always better," he said.

"I’m very happy because the weekend didn’t start well. I was 17th, 14th, far behind. But we managed to stay calm and do a good job.

"I was missing some stability. We managed to increase that and we managed also to increase the grip.

"Maybe it wasn’t enough with new tyres, I don’t know why. Maybe my riding style or something else. But with used tyres, yes. Especially in the last ten laps of the race I was feeling very comfortable, fast and able to catch up a lot.

"So it was the opposite of previous races, where we were fast in practice but a bit far back in the race.

"I don’t know what to expect from the Sachsenring this weekend because I didn’t ride last year, but I’m really looking forward to going there and starting the job from where we finished this weekend."

Morbidelli is twelfth in the world championship, six places behind Quartararo.