Coming off a difficult two-day test in Valencia, Alvaro Bautista opted to revert to his 2015 electronics package while testing on Wednesday and Thursday in Jerez in a bid to fully understand the character of the new Michelin tyres.
Twice a crasher in the post-race test at the Ricardo Tormo circuit when running the spec Magneti Marelli electronics that will be used in 2016, Bautista felt it necessary to change his approach, as the new RSV-GP machine won't arrive until the new year.
A MotoGP rider on Bridgestone rubber since his class debut in 2010, Bautista stated he was using the three-day test in Jerez to build his confidence and understanding of the tyres, especially under heavy braking and corner entry.
“Basically these two days we were focused on the tyres,” he said on Thursday. “I tried the electronics in Valencia but it was too different to our electronics. We lost these electronics to make a good base that is similar as the Aprilia [software]. We are just concentrating on the tyre to get some confidence. From Valencia I didn't have good confidence. I crashed twice. Here it was important to start to understand how this tyre has to be ridden. Also the set-up of the bike needs work.
“Yesterday we tried three new front tyres that Michelin brought to test in this weather. There is one of those three tyres that I like more. It is more similar to Bridgestone style but is still a bit far. We need to work have more confidence, especially on the front. Also here it's strange because normally every time I try the Michelin tyres on another track, especially in Valencia, the rear grip was really good. Here I struggled more than there. I don't know if it's because of the track but it's strange."
Asked to expand on how the feel on the Michelin tyres differ from what he used throughout the 2015 season, Bautista explained how the front hasn't given him a great deal of feedback. The 31-year old is still evaluating how to adapt his style best to this.
“It's like you don't have a lot of information with what is happening with the front when you enter in the corner. Just you try to go a little faster, faster, faster…then you crash. But you don't have a warning. It's important to understand this and then get some confidence. I don't know if we'll work with the electronics on Friday. It depends how is the Magneti Marelli, if it's the same level as the Aprilia. Then we will focus on the electronics.
“With the other tyres you can go very deep into the corner braking really hard. With this tyre you don't have the confidence to do it because you don't feel it. With this tyre you have to stop more on the straight [in a straight line] than going in. For me all the career in MotoGP I was using Bridgestone. Now we change and in two tests it's difficult. I still don't understand how I need to change my riding style. I need more time and more kilometres.”
On Thursday the Spaniard lapped the Jerez track 65 times while insisting he wasn't focusing on lap times. Neither he nor team-mate Stefan Bradl will test the 2016 Aprilia prototype until the first preseason test in Sepang. Bautista revealed he is yet to see the bike.
“Next year I'm worried for the tyre, the electronics and the new bike because the new bike will arrive in February for the first test in Sepang,” he joked. “We'll see. It will be new. The bike, the engine. Everything will be new. That's why here I'm trying to understand the tyre because if I can advance the work for the tyres because in Sepang for sure we'll be concentrated on the new bike. To set it up and try to see where the new bike is better and which points to improve. It will be a very busy winter test.
“At the moment it's just in the computer but I didn't see it. I know it will be lighter, because our bike is a bit heavy. It will be smaller too but I haven't seen the project. I hope Aprilia send me some photos during the winter.”