Morbidelli: Yamaha like riding on butter

Franco Morbidelli gives his first impressions of Yamaha’s M1; “My riding style is already quite smooth. This bike just calls for that.”
Morbidelli: Yamaha like riding on butter

Franco Morbidelli has likened riding an M1 to “riding on butter” after the former Moto2 world champion impressed on his debut for Petronas Yamaha SRT, and caught the attention of reigning world champion Marc Marquez.

Of all the riders to have switched teams and manufacturers, it was Morbidelli that caught the eye from the very start. He immediately appeared comfortable, a sense that was backed up by his immediate speed.

The Italian was sixth fastest at the close of play, his best lap time of 1m 32.085s just six tenths of a second slower than Tuesday’s pace setter Maverick Viñales. In his debrief, Marquez sang the Italian's praises.



More than his speed, it was Morbidelli’s first impressions that stood out. The 24-year old considers his own riding style to be more suited to the sweet handling, smooth M1 than the Honda RC213V, with which he made his class debut in 2018.

“Well of course there are some good and negative aspects,” he said of the M1. “But what I immediately realised is this bike is much more rider friendly. You understand it quite quickly while the other is a bit more rough. But anyway both are two amazing bikes and I ride this one and I hope to make a good result with this one.

“I’m really happy about today. It was a day to more understand the bike and let run everything. The day went pretty well. We didn’t make many laps. We managed to make 40, which is not bad. We also made a good performance.

“I felt good with the bike from the beginning and I’m quite happy about that. From now on we’ll keep on working and I’ll keep on understanding the bike, to use the good points and understand the bad points, and use it as best as possible.

“Of course to see myself in the top positions is nice but it doesn’t matter a lot because we are testing. Testing doesn’t matter too much the lap time. Of course it counts for me, but not too much.”

Morbidelli confirmed he was using the frame Johann Zarco had fitted throughout the 2018 season (essentially a ’16 spec M1 chassis) on Tuesday, with a 2018 spec engine. And he feels he will need to be a good deal more gentle with the Yamaha to extract the maximum from the bike.

“ Of course I think I will change to a much smoother riding style,” he said. “My riding style is already quite smooth. This bike just calls that riding style. When you jump on it it’s like riding on butter. It’s quite a nice feeling. It comes naturally. I think it will come naturally. I won’t force anything and I’ll try to follow the vibes of the bike.

“It’s not a lot less physical. It’s that everything that happens on the bike happens more smoothly, because of the size of the bike. The dimensions are completely different. As I said my previous bike was quite rough, it was quite reactive.

“Not nervous. You might see it from the television a bit nervous. But the right word is reactive because everything that happens, it happens fast.”

Aside from the Yamaha debuts of Morbidelli and new rookie team-mate Fabio Quartararo, Tuesday was the all-new Petronas Yamaha SRT (Sepang Racing Team) MotoGP squad's first day of on-track action.

Managed by Wilco Zeelenberg, Morbidelli could also call upon the vast experience of new crew chief Ramon Forcada. And aside from them, the rest of his crew is made up of faces from the now-defunct Marc VDS MotoGP squad, and his old Moto2 team.

“It was good,” he said of his adaption to the new team. “All the mechanics, I knew them. They were from my previous team or my team in Moto2. So I knew more or less everybody. It was nice also to work with Ramon. It was our first day and it was important to get a nice relationship with him and to work well.”

And the experience working alongside Forcada? “For this first day it went well. We didn’t have too much work to do. Just to understand the bike. He wants me to understand the bike and he’s right. I need to understand how everything works and then try something later on.”