Valentino Rossi is wary of the 'particular' nature of the Sachsenring circuit and believes the performance of Michelin's new asymmetric front tyre compound – along with the unpredictable weather – will be key in the weekend's events.
The nine-time world champion was left reeling from a crash in Assen that cost him valuable ground in the title fight. Rossi now sits a considerable 42 points back of leader Marc Marquez and has every intention of beginning a famous fight back around the tight, twisty East German track.
But first of all the Italian feels understanding Michelin's front tyre allocation, which includes two asymmetric compounds out of a selection of three, is the main priority.
“This track is very particular and is very different to all the tracks,” Rossi said to assembled journalists on Thursday. “It's difficult for the tyres. In the past with Bridgestone we had a lot of problem to fix because it is all on the left.
“You need a very hard compound on the left. After you have two or three corners on the right and this is also very dangerous situation. For this reason it is a big question mark to see how the tyre and the way it works.
“Unfortunately there is bad weather and it's very cold. At the moment the forecast is quite bad for the weekend so it can be a difficult weekend with the weather. It's a shame because everyone hope for the dry. Last year was always good weather and we could work on the bike in a good way.
“Last year was good. I finished on the podium behind the two Hondas but during all the weekend I was competitive. In the race I arrived quite close. In the last years this track has been very good for Honda. We have to understand this year if it's the same or not.
“It's also a good track for the two Honda riders. Both Pedrosa and Marquez like this circuit. They are both very fast. We will see the conditions and also the new electronics and the new tyres the feeling with the bike. We'll try to be ready and competitive in all the conditions.”
Rossi was then asked in what way his Yamaha M1 had developed from the start of the season until the near-midway point.
Despite initial impressions of Michelin's front tyre suggesting a huge change was in store, the Italian explained his his current settings are somewhat similar to what he used with Bridgestone rubber in 2015.
“We test three or four times the Michelin tyres last year and this gave to us worry because we crashed and had no feeling with the front. For this reason Yamaha work on a bike that is quite different to the year before with the Bridgestone with the different weight distribution and the tank on the rear.
“But after the Michelin tyres improve quite a lot, especially the front. In the end we use a very similar setting to Bridgestone. This is good because our bike with the Michelin looks good. It's a little bit the same for the electronics. We expect a big change – a revolution – and a big step back. In the end it was a half step back. The bike I use now is very similar to last year.”