In place of Valentino you have Ben Spies, who is riding alongside Jorge Lorenzo. How much has Jorge developed the bike in the past and can he develop the bike in the way Valentino has in the future?
There is a big age difference between Valentino  and Jorge . Jorge is still young and a 'curious boy'. He is still growing up. So far he has almost no knowledge to develop the bike, to be honest, but I'm very much expecting to look at him for the next couple of years. He is changing a lot.
The first year he came to Yamaha  he crashed so many times and he wanted to change the bike. So I talked to him and said 'please, adapt your riding style to the bike'. I said exactly the same thing to Valentino, and Valentino changed his riding style in just 10 seconds. Jorge was new to MotoGP so he took longer.
Our advantage with the bike is in smooth riding and being very fast in the corner. Not fast in a straight-line and stop-start style. So Jorge understood and then last year he learnt many things, had almost no crashes and was on the podium almost every time. Now he is so smart. More like Valentino.
Also Ben is clever and the combination with the two guys is very good. And, thanks to Valentino again, he and I developed the bike and all we need from now on is just a little bit of set-up and modification.
What are your impressions of Yamaha's main rivals in MotoGP, Honda and Ducati?
Honda is now recovering very much and has been fast here. Ducati is doing something wrong. Maybe Valentino is too good for Ducati, so that makes another 'noise'.
Last year Nicky Hayden
went better, but at this test he hasn't been so fast. But sooner or later the Ducati is coming up. I am sure Valentino will help Ducati very much, but there is a good time-delay for Yamaha.
The strongest competitor is definitely Honda. Honda is so hungry to beat Yamaha. Usually Honda is better than Yamaha, so with Yamaha winning five [rider] titles in the last seven years - many people in Honda want to kill me [laughs]! Lots of people have been fired at Honda and the staff are always changing.
What do you think has been the main problem for Honda?
Historically, Honda's advantage has usually been a technical one. Right from the founder, Soichiro Honda, there have been many good engineers at Honda. Then around 2003 they became maybe a little arrogant in racing. They believed any riders could come to Honda and win.
That was why Valentino was so disappointed with Honda. Otherwise I could never get Valentino, so thanks to Honda very much! But Honda learned something from their mistake and now Honda is eager to get a good rider, like Casey Stoner. Then they plan to combine a good bike with good riders to maybe catch and someday take over Yamaha. I hope not.