Morbidelli admits Yamaha MotoGP 2023 deal protects him

Franco Morbidelli has admitted that he would be facing serious contractual pressures at the moment had he not agreed to a two-year contract by joining the factory Yamaha MotoGP team.

A three-time race winner and 2020 championship runner-up, Morbidelli has struggled to regain his peak form in premier class since a long absence last year imposed by a knee injury and surgery to repair it.

During this absence, he received a factory Yamaha order as a full-time replacement for Maverick Vinales, and a contract running until the end of 2023.

While his initial struggles after his return were hardly alarming – given that he was still regaining fitness and lacking in stamina – results have not improved much in 2022 so far, with Morbidelli having only accumulated only 17 points against the 69 of his teammate Fabio Quartararo on the first five. races.

This form would no doubt have raised questions about his immediate future at Yamaha had he not signed until 2023, and when asked by The Race if he felt lucky to be in place, Morbidelli replied. “yes”.

“I’m not performing as well as my teammate, who is winning races,” he said. “I’m supposed to play like him.

“Now I have everything [to do it] – I have the team, I have the bike, I have the means. But I am not, at the moment. So that would be a time when the factory would start to, I don’t know, panic or pressure you in some way.

“And it’s not my case because I’m still a year old [under] Contract.”

Morbidelli said he thinks he has made progress in recent races, “even if it doesn’t look like it”.

“If you compare me to Fabio for example, in the first race [in Qatar] we even went, in the race my [fastest] time was faster than his, my pace was similar to his – I [just] got off to a bad start,” he said.

“Then going forward, I went further and further [adrift]. But I needed to take a path and I needed to go through a process, with the crew and with the bike, and I think we did the right things most of the time – not every time, the most of the time.

“And we go to the maximum, even if sometimes the performance does not say so.”

Only Quartararo has consistently extracted results from the Yamaha since the start of 2021, leading to suggestions – mainly from RNF rider Andrea Dovizioso – that he rides a particular way that suits the bike and that his peers in the Yamaha camp simply can not. reproduce.

But while Morbidelli acknowledged the bike doesn’t “behave” the way he wants, he said it was close enough to the version of M1 he thrived on in 2020 for him to keep the faith.

“We know it’s possible because of my feeling – my feeling is that the bike is not that different compared to the bike I used to ride in 2019, 2020 and 2021,” he said. -he declares. “It’s just like the same bike [but] a bit quicker on the straight and not as well tuned.

“So we have to believe in my feeling and keep working to find the right things.”

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