Five-minutes with Franco Morbidelli, moments before the Petronas Yamaha Sepang team launch at the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur on Monday…

How has your winter been?

Franco Morbidelli:

Good. Very good. I had a lot of rest. I had some time to stay just with my family and friends. Go skiing. Do the normal stuff that you do during the winter, just to recharge the batteries and be ready for this year.

How about bike training?

Franco Morbidelli:

Yeah, we did the 100k at the ranch and we've been doing other riding at the ranch, some motocross, normal stuff as well.

Now you've got the team launch today and then the Sepang test in just over a week, will you have your final 2019 bike at the test?

Franco Morbidelli:

Well… We will ride the 2019 bike, but I think it will still be evolving and there will be some new parts to try. Mainly the two factory riders are going to try them, but also us. So let's see. But for sure the spec this season is going to be 2019, as a factory rider.

At the 2018 tests it looked like Yamaha were providing very close support to the team?

Franco Morbidelli:

The truth is that Yamaha is supporting us a lot. We had great support in Valencia, we had huge support also in Jerez. I feel really good with the Yamaha people and I feel that working with them is very nice and it's a very challenging time. I feel that everybody [at Yamaha] wants to improve and get back on top. I feel this eagerness to get back on top.

One of the key Yamaha people is your crew chief Ramon Forcada, who has more experience of the M1 than any other factory crew chief. What's it like working with him?

Franco Morbidelli:

There's no one word to explain Ramon. He's a super-experienced crew chief, super nice person. I felt immediately good from the beginning with him. Which is important. He's a crew chief that trusts a lot the rider. So I had the feeling that he makes you do your job and he does his job. In this way, I really liked him.

We will see. I will know him better during the season, but as I said, I felt this eagerness from him also to do well. Because we are being part of a completely new thing and I have the feeling that we are part of a great thing. And I feel this energy is spreading through the crew and also in the Yamaha guys.

So, I'm feeling these good vibes and good energy.

One of Lewis Hamilton's F1 cars is hanging up over there. We always hear that Lewis likes bikes and wants to try a MotoGP bike. But would you like to try the Petronas F1 car, do you do any karting or car driving?

Franco Morbidelli:

I do. I train with the karting and I go with cars from time-to-time. Not on track, but I've done some drifting, some 4x4 driving on snow for fun. So I do a little bit, not much!

So if the chance came up to try the F1…

Franco Morbidelli:

I would take it, for sure!

But if Lewis wants to try my MotoGP bike, I can give it to him right away! Even if I can't try the F1 car.


Morbidelli gets roped into selfie duties...

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