Valentino Rossi ‘competitive’ but Yamaha losing free time on straights

Valentino Rossi says he feels more competitive on the 2020 Yamaha M1 but is disappointed it is still losing 'gratis' time on the straights

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha MotoGP

Valentino Rossi says his impressions of the updated 2020 Yamaha M1 are positive after a competitive end to the 2020 MotoGP test in Sepang, even if he admits the call for better top speed has been negated by rivals’ improvements.

The Italian comes into the 2020 MotoGP season reviewing his future in the sport after Yamaha’s decision to drop him from its factory line-up for 2021 in favour of Fabio Quartararo.

Rossi has stated he will decide whether to continue in MotoGP with the Petronas SRT team or retire depending on his competitiveness during the opening rounds.

For now, Rossi is pleased with the feedback from the updated M1 after setting the fifth quickest time on the final day of MotoGP testing in Sepang.

Indeed, in a year that saw Rossi suffer with rear tyre degradation more than his Yamaha counterparts, the seven-time premier class champion says the updated Michelin tyres suit the M1 and his riding style more than in 2019.

"I feel quite good because we improve," Rossi told our sister publication "It's true that everybody is strong everybody improved the lap time and we are all very close.

"But the feeling is positive because it looks like we gained some grip. And it also looks like we improved the rear tyre degradation, which is our main issue. But it's just one track, so now we have to check in Qatar.

"The new bike is a bit different, so we need to work to understand all the potential. The bike with new tyres is very good, also for the time attack. But we need to understand if also at the other tracks our pace is better at the end of the race. And work on the speed in the straight."

Valentino Rossi still losing 'gratis' time on straights

While Rossi and team-mate Maverick Vinales have both urged Yamaha to extract more performance from the M1’s inline-four engine, the manufacturer has so far resisted doing so in an effort to retain the bike’s more agile handling traits.

However, herein lies Rossi’s problem: Already losing time in the straights, he was also suffering in the corners, unlike Vinales and Fabio Quartararo who could get the most from the chassis to negate the top speed deficit.

While Rossi is encouraged by latest tyres and how well they seem to suit the inline-four machines (Yamaha and Suzuki), he admits it is a shame the M1 is still losing out on ‘gratis’ time on the straights compared to its V4 counterparts.

“We improved a little bit in the top speed but still the gap is quite big [because] the other bikes also made a step. Now we need to understand if we can keep the slipstream, but I don’t see a lot of difference," Rossi explained.

"We need to wait also for another track and need to see if we don’t lose a lot in the race. From what we understand, the inline four is a bit easier to ride, but is a bit more slow [on the straights].

“It's always difficult because the V4s are faster in the straight and to go faster in the straight is 'gratis'. You don’t have a big effort.

However, Rossi admits Yamaha is unlikely to alter the ‘DNA’ of the M1 now and that it is something he will need to adapt to compensate.

"Looks like our bike is a bit better in the corners, but to be faster in the corner you have always to risk, always to make more effort. So it's not easy. But this is our DNA. The Yamaha is like this and I think it will remain always like this, the four inline, so we have to do the maximum like this."