Valentino Rossi: 2019 Yamaha 'more or less the same' as 2018 bike
Valentino Rossi admitted after the MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix that his the Yamaha is similar to how it was in 2018, and says he was “not strong enough” for the podium.
Rossi qualified a lowly 14th as he struggled with the front tyres through practice, but managed to recover to finish just six tenths from the victory in fifth and as top Yamaha runner.
However, the 40-year-old Italian said his pace was still not “strong enough” to fight for the podium, and is worried the Losail circuit helped to mask his problems.
“We worked on Saturday to improve the setting of the bike and also for the race we made some other adjustments,” said Rossi.
“We worked well, I'm happy because it was a good race and I feel good with the bike. I also enjoyed coming from the back, so it was not so bad.
“The problem is that my feeling is we are more or less like last year. So I arrive fifth, which is good.
“I'm 0.6 seconds from the victory, but in this track we are always good. So we have to keep working, because in some other places we can have some problems.
“But I will take this result. I tried for the podium, but I was not strong enough.”
Team-mate Maverick Vinales dropped from pole to seventh at the start, and was unable to advance further up the order after suffering a from a mystifying lack of rear grip while following other riders.
“Well actually at the start I got a lot of wheelie, so I could not keep full gas and I miss a little bit the inside [of Turn 1] and I could not keep the full line,” Vinales told BT Sport.
“But obviously we have to improve a lot the bike. When I'm alone I can do really good laptimes. Even in the middle of the race when I lapped alone I could make 1:55s low in a rhythm.
“But as soon as I arrive to one rider I get this lack of grip on the rear, and I cannot overtake.
“So still we have to improve, I have to improve. I think I could go even faster when I was alone, but behind the riders I don't know why I cannot attack, I cannot overtake, I lose a lot of acceleration.
“So we need to keep working, as I said. The positive point is we know now where we need to improve.”