Yamaha suffered during the 2020 MotoGP season, and although Franco Morbidelli rounded out the year as championship runner-up, Maverick Viñales, the best of the two factory riders, finished outside the top five. The new team will be presented on 15 February and it is aiming for a comeback.
“It was very difficult for Yamaha", explains the Spaniard, "because we started the year out front, even setting the record at Jerez. We were pleased with the bike and then we got to Brno and Austria, two difficult tracks for us, and we couldn’t find a way to improve. We got worse and then couldn’t find a way back”. And then there was the engine issue: “I completed the entire year, fourteen races, with two engines. We were at the limit”.
Development continues in Japan
Expectations for the M1 are high: “I hope Yamaha has developed the bike well and that we can give 100%. Of course we cannot go back to what we had in 2019, but we can improve”. Despite the freezing of engines, various areas are in need of attention: “We need to improve in terms of the chassis. If we compare our bike to others, it’s not very agile. I think that’s where we can focus to be more competitive”.
The world champion
Joan Mir secured the 2020 title with consistent, precise performance and Viñales comments: “It was a complicated year for everyone and we gave it our all. They did everything right and in the last races Suzuki was spectacular”.
2021 will be the first year that the Spaniard is not sharing a garage with Valentino Rossi, but rather Fabio Quartararo: “It will be very different, we’ll see if it’s positive or negative. From what I hear it will be positive in that bike development has changed. We’ll try to improve with Fabio (Quartararo), in the sense that we’ll work a little more closely. Valentino also has an important role for Yamaha and will be in the garage next door. It’s as if he were still factory, he’ll continue on there”. And when asked if Rossi has been the reference until now, Maverick replies: “I don’t know, it’s hard to say. We each give our opinions and this year Yamaha did as it wanted”.
Translated by Heather Watson