Rossi: 'One of worst weekends for long time'

Valentino Rossi says he was suffering 'everywhere' after a disastrous home MotoGP at Mugello ends with him crashing out of 21st place.
Rossi: 'One of worst weekends for long time'

Valentino Rossi has described his Mugello ordeal as one of his “worst” race weekends “for a long, long time” as the ‘19 Yamaha M1’s failings were brutally exposed under the searing Italian sun.

Considering the 40-year old was leading this race in 2016 before an engine failure, finished fourth a year later after a heavy training incident prior to the race, and wrestled the Yamaha to a brilliant podium last season, hopes were high coming to Tuscany.

But Rossi’s weekend began to unravel in FP3, when a late mistake put him outside the top ten. A starting position of 18th was nothing short of disastrous and it says a lot about his Sunday struggles that he was caught out when attempting to pass Joan Mir for 14th on lap five.

A failed overtake pushed both men wide and into the gravel on the outside of turn two. Rossi rejoined in last (22nd) before crashing out at Arrabiata 2 on lap eight, an incident that put the seal on a weekend to forget.

The issue, he said, was the M1's lack of acceleration issues, which meant overtaking and in-group riding was incredibly difficult. From here he can only abide by the dictum of “we should not give up, try the maximum and remain concentrated.”

“So a very difficult weekend and one of the worst for a long, long time because we were never fast,” said the nine-time world champion. “We ride here knowing it would be difficult but we expect it to be strong here in Mugello but it was not like this and in all the practice I was not so fast.

“Yesterday, for an important lap for the Q2 I made a mistake on the last corner and went into Q1 and then everything became more difficult. In the race starting from behind is always difficult, especially because my pace is not fantastic.

“I lose everything when I have contact with Mir. I go to overtake but we touch and we go out. I also crashed in Arribiata 2 but anyway in general a very difficult weekend for things that happened.

“Also because we were quite slow and we struggled in the race when we had to ride with other bikes and we are not fast on the straight or acceleration. A race like this is very difficult. We have to try and do something.

“Where do we suffer? Everywhere! From the start! I didn't make a fantastic start but then 3-4 bikes overtake. This is the big difference because in acceleration from one corner to the other we suffer. It is not just top speed but also acceleration and now the gap is quite big.”

When it was put to Rossi that it was unusual to see him make so many mistakes over a weekend, he agreed, saying, “When you slow everything becomes more difficult. You have to try something.

“I try to be very ready for this point of the season because I know it is an important part for me: from here to Sachsenring and last year I was able to get a lot of points.

“Le Mans was a big mess but we did the magic of the slick in Q1 and also the Q2 was wet and usually I am fast so I was able to start fifth. I did a good race, no mistake and always in the slipstream to finish fifth.

“Here, this time unfortunately it is more difficult. We did some mistakes. If I don't make the mistake in the last corner of FP3 then I would arrive to Q2 and starting on the second or third row and then after it is another race. We want to try for more and we are working.”

How did this disappointment compare to 2016, when he cruelly lost out on a famous home win due to mechanical misfortune?

“It is a very different feeling, you know,” he said. “But I want to say it is worse this year than 2016. In 2016 I was desperate because I started from pole position and I was strong and I could win for the first time in a lot of years and the engine blow. You feel really desperate, but, also optimistic because you are fast.

“Now I don't feel desperate but a lot more sad because I am slow.”

Rossi is also acutely aware of recent history, which has seen Yamaha’s competitors make a succession of mid-season improvements while the M1 has failed to keep up.

Asked whether he feared a repeat in 2019, Rossi said, “I think this happened in 2016, ‘17, ‘18 and also now. For me it is because the opponents bring a lot of new and they need some races to set-up.

“Usually we are more ready at the beginning because we have a lot less stuff, so we use the advantage at the beginning because the others are not ready yet. When the others fix the problem then it becomes a problem for us. In the first half of ’16 the Yamaha was the stronger bike.

“With Bridgestone in ’15 I fight for the championship with Lorenzo and with more than 330 points both, so it means 650 points in the Manufacturers, which is an incredible amount.

“From the second half of ’16 the others make a huge improvement and it looks like we are grey, sincerely because in the last years if you look at our performance and lap-times we are more or less the same. For me this is the problem.”