Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Prepare for Season Opening Fight in Qatar
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi were keen to get down to business today during the first two free practice sessions of the VisitQatar Grand Prix. They continued to develop the set-ups they had determined during the Qatar Test a fortnight ago and started the work on making a tyre decision for Sunday's race. The riders finished the day in 2nd and 16th place respectively in the combined results.
Viñales showed a consistent pace early on in FP1 and continued to work systematically on his bike's set-up throughout the session. The end results were very tight, with 16 riders finishing within 0.9s from the fastest time, but the Spaniard focused mainly on cornering. He booked progress throughout the session, making the last lap his fastest thus far. He finished in sixth place with a 1'55.312s lap, 0.264s from the front.
Similar to last year, the pace increased in the evening as the temperatures dropped, so the Spaniard knew he had to put his head down in the second free practice session. He soon took third in the rankings and showed a solid rhythm. At the end of the session, he rode a lap under the 1'54-mark, a 1'53.854s, earning him second place, 0.474s from first.
Rossi put his name forward as one of the top contenders in FP1. He tried a new set-up for his bike in the bright sunshine, resulting in him taking the honours of P1 right at the end of the 45-minute session. His superb 1'55.048s, put him on the top of the timesheets, 0.079s ahead of his closest rival.
The Doctor used the same settings in FP2. However, he wasn't able to improve on his best time from the earlier session. He wrapped up the evening in 17th place with a best time of 1'55.137s, 1.757s from first. He holds 16th place in the combined results, 1.668s from the top, thanks to his FP1 time.
Maverick Viñales, 2nd - 1'53.854
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
"It was really important to be inside the top-10 today, because the lap times were really fast. I was planning to do two time-attacks, but in the end I only had time to do one. I'm actually really happy about how the bike is working. We still have to improve, we are losing a lot on top-speed, but the bike is getting really great in the corners, so I'm very excited to work even harder tomorrow. We're going to try to make the last corner better, especially in terms of acceleration. We need to improve in that area, let's see if we can do it tomorrow. We now know the potential of our bike and we need to keep working hard."
Valentino Rossi, 16th - 1'55.048
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
"It was a strange day because, maybe we aren't as good as this afternoon, but for sure we are not as bad as this evening. This evening, sincerely, we didn't modify the bike very much, but I had a lot of problems with the front tyres because we got out of balance and I suffered very much. I was slow. At the end, the track had a lot grip, so a lot of the top guys improved, and the best lap time is a new record, so they were very fast, but unfortunately it was a difficult practice for me. The big problem is that I'm out of Q2 at the moment. Tomorrow in FP3 maybe the conditions will make it hard to improve my best lap time, so it will be difficult to enter directly into Q2. We have to find a way to be faster."
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
"We started FP1 where we finished the Qatar Test, with a good base set-up. Maverick was able to improve his setting from FP1 to FP2 and he‘s very comfortable on the bike, even though we still have some room for improvement on the exit of turn 16. Valentino, on the other hand, tried a different setting at the end of FP1 that gave him the possibility to improve, but most likely due to the different temperature of the tarmac in FP2, this didn‘t work well and it affected his time-attack. Tomorrow in FP3 the aim is to get through to Q2, even though we know it will be difficult because of the track conditions in the warm afternoon. Another important aspect is to make a definite decision on the tyre choice for the race, as we‘re currently 80% certain."
Brilliant performance from PETRONAS Yamaha SRT pair on opening night in Qatar
The PETRONAS Yamaha SRT riders produced standout performances on the opening night of the 2019 season at the Losail International Circuit, with Fabio Quartararo finishing fifth fastest in free practice and his teammate Franco Morbidelli overcoming a crash to take seventh. As both riders backed up their good form at the test last week and booked provisional places in tomorrow night’s Q2.
Morbidelli set a best lap of 1’55.324 in the first free practice session of the weekend. The Italian kicking off his second season in the premier class in style on the new YZR-M1 as he established himself amongst the lead riders in seventh place. Meanwhile, Quartararo’s rookie campaign started in a creditable eleventh place in FP1, just four tenths off the top in a time of 1’55.509.
The positive early signs continued in the second session as both Quartararo (1’54.154) and Morbidelli (1’54.275) improved their FP1 best, by 1.4 seconds and 0.9 seconds respectively. Morbidelli escaped unhurt from a crash in turn 1 with twenty minutes remaining and returned to the track to post his best lap of the night.
After a fantastic opening night, work continues for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT at the Qatar Grand Prix tomorrow, with two further free practice sessions and qualifying sessions – at 20:00h and 20:25h local time – to decide the first starting grid of the season.
Fabio Quartararo, 5th - 1'54.154
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
"We have managed to maintain a good pace and in particular a fast lap time. I didn’t feel so good on the first tyre but I did have a full tank at that point. After that we tried another tyre and I actually made a few mistakes on my fast lap so it was a surprise to see that I had managed a 54.1, which means I could even have managed a high 53 or an even lower 54. I am really happy with the pace we have set tonight and the job the team has done. We need to stay calm and keep working in the same way. I have felt good so far in the two free practice sessions. In FP3 tomorrow we will have to take the heat into account and then in FP4 focus on our race pace. Then we’ll see what happens in qualifying."
Franco Morbidelli, 7th - 1'54.275
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
"I felt comfortable over the first few laps tonight and my race rhythm was decent. We’ll have to have a look at what everybody else’s was like but I was happy with mine. We still have plenty of room for improvement so that’s what we have to do. The important thing for tomorrow is to understand the situation and figure out the right way to go with the bike to close the gap to the fastest guys. As for the crash, I was trying to understand a new aspect of the setting that we were trying and it was my first lap, so I think I just went too hard into turn one on used tyres and ended up crashing. Maybe the tyre wasn’t quite ready for me to push so hard, so basically it was my own fault. After the crash we were able to rediscover the feeling very easily and I was able to go fast with the new setting on the second bike. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do many laps on it and we would have liked to have done more on used tyres, which was the plan. Despite that, we were able to get a few laps in so we do at least have some information to work from."