Massimo Meregalli:
For sure, as happened on Valentino’s side, it happened also on Maverick’s side. He now has closer technicians that were looking for him. They know each other. They worked together when he won the [Moto3] title [in 2013]. I think now the atmosphere is something he was looking for. Apart from this, also the results, and the bike improvements made this connection ever better. For sure Esteban needs time to know the bike. As we started, with our organisation, there is one Japanese engineer that is very close to Esteban. They are working together. This makes the integration easier.
Maverick said he hasn’t changed the balance of the bike so much since the Grand Prix of Thailand last year. What was that change that allowed Yamaha to be competitive again?

Massimo Meregalli:
We introduced the first electronics update. But we also made a chassis set-up change. From that moment Maverick didn’t touch the bike so much. It happened already back in the years with Jorge when the bike was really performing well. They never touched the set-up much. Also when Maverick started with us two years ago at the first three or four events, the bike was the same. Then when we started facing some problems, we started moving weight distribution, making the bike longer, shorter, up, down… When they started changing so many things then it is not so easy to take the right path. It takes time to come back.
How big an impact has electronics engineer Michele Gadda, who has moved across from Yamaha’s World Superbike effort, had?

Massimo Meregalli:
He brought experience and even though he is young, he is a clever engineer. OK, we have other clever engineers in different areas, but he joins us. And in this specific area he is really good. Maybe we need one or two more Michele Gaddas!
How much of a benefit has it been having Franco on a bike that is more or less identical to the factory bikes?

Massimo Meregalli:
For sure because together with Franco there is Ramon, who is one of the most experienced engineers in this paddock. With him, Silvano and Estaban, for sure the bike can grow up. It was already like this in the past, but between Tech 3 and the factory team, the bike was not the same. Now Franco has exactly the same as ours. Also Fabio, his bike is not that different.

That is really important because you can compare. You can have a proper comparison between all the bikes at the same tracks. For sure that helps. Also we can maybe share some jobs, especially at these tests. That is really fundamental if you want to speed up the performance.
At Sepang conditions were good with a lot of grip. At Qatar that hasn’t always been the case. Yet Maverick has still been consistently fast. That must be a big boost.

Massimo Meregalli:
Yes, for us this is really encouraging and really important. As you know we always suffer with a lack of grip. Yesterday the first runs were difficult but almost immediately we made a step up. Even though track conditions were not super we could keep really good pace. But let’s wait for today. There is a small doubt still in my mind!

Vinales went on to finish the Qatar test with the fastest lap time, with all four Yamahas in the top seven in terms of single-lap pace. However, race pace remains a greater unknown heading into this weekend's grand prix...



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