'Worried' Valentino Rossi doesn't expect big gains for Qatar test

Yamaha's Valentino Rossi says he is “quite worried” about the current race pace of the M1, and does not believe the team will have “something new”  to make substantial gains for the final MotoGP pre-season test in Qatar.

Rossi concluded the three-day test at Sepang 10th on the timesheets, and 1.1 seconds off of pacesetter Danilo Petrucci on the Ducati. 

Yamaha had a new engine to test at Sepang, as it seeks to create a smoother power delivery in a bid to avoid the problems which plagued it across the entirety of the 2018 campaign.

Speaking on Friday, Rossi says he would “suffer” if a race were to be held at Sepang – where he fought for victory last year – now, and admits only some of the updates Yamaha brought to Malaysia worked as expected. 

“I'm half happy, because some things worked well and we improve our performance,” he said.

“Something else we expected a lot to work did not bring us what we need. So for me it's good because in the first test we improved something, but we have a lot of work to do because the gap was quite bike. 

“But I'm happy about the atmosphere and the ideas inside, because it looks like Yamaha is very concentrated on improving. This is very important.”

He added: “In the time attack, the Ducatis were impressive, and also we don't have [Marc] Marquez [posting representative laps] because of the shoulder problem. 

“So in the hot lap we suffer a little bit. About the pace, we are a bit closer. But I'm quite worried still, if we race tomorrow we suffer because we have something else to improve. 

“So for the first test it's not bad, the Qatar test is in 10 days. But I don't think for Qatar we can have something new. But it's another track, it's another temperature, so will be interesting to understand.”

Team-mate Maverick Vinales, who was fastest on Thursday and fifth on Friday, feels the Sepang test was the first time in his Yamaha career he made constant improvements with the new engine. 

“Here we only had one [engine specification], so I focused a lot on trying to improve the acceleration side. 

“We did it, so it's really important. In these two years, it's the first time we go steps ahead day-by-day, and that's the most important thing. 

“Day-by-day the bike was working very similar, and not like last year when it was working good and bad. These three days it was working really good.”