Morbidelli: ‘Good things’ but ‘huge bad aspect’ exposed, it’s frustrating

A ‘frustrated’ Franco Morbidelli echoed the comments of Monster Yamaha team-mate Fabio Quartararo at the end of the Sepang MotoGP test.
Franco Morbidelli, Sepang MotoGP test, 10 February
Franco Morbidelli, Sepang MotoGP test, 10 February

While there were many positives for Yamaha at the Sepang test, namely top speed and used tyre performance, one ‘huge bad aspect’ of the 2023 prototype was exposed on the final day.

When Quartararo and Morbidelli, now Yamaha’s only race riders after the loss of the RNF satellite team, faced off against their rivals in a qualifying-style time attack, they were left just 19th (Quartararo) and 20th (Morbidelli) on the timesheets.

The gap to the top was only one-second but that was of little consolation to either rider given the enhanced significance of qualifying this season, which each grid position now counting for both the new Saturday Sprint and full Sunday race.

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“There were many, many good things that we've been trying. The engine is better. I'm happy about that. The team has done great work on that and we've been very clinical in trying things and understanding things," Morbidelli said.

“So this is positive and [then] there is a huge bad aspect of today which is the time attack. Unfortunately, I did just one time attack because then it was starting to rain, but I think I would have not have done much better.

“That's the negative aspect of today, but the team will work and we will try to improve this for Portimao test.”

Luca Marini, Franco Morbidelli, Francesco Bagnaia, Sepang MotoGP test 10-12 February
Luca Marini, Franco Morbidelli, Francesco Bagnaia, Sepang MotoGP test 10…

Morbidelli did add one further clue to the qualifying issue, described as a 'nightmare' by 2021 world champion Quartararo, revealing it is not simply new tyres that are the problem, but the combination of new tyres and low fuel.

“The bike doesn't work with new tyres and light [fuel] configuration,” said the Italian.

“With new tyres and race [fuel] configuration, it does. But somehow new tyres and light bike we are not able to make ‘57 like them [Ducati riders Luca Marini and Francesco Bagnaia]. We were able to make ‘58.

“It's frustrating. We know that our potential is totally different and I feel that the potential of the bike is not this. But I'm sure that the engineers will work on that and will improve this.”

Morbidelli was also seen with a new frame fitted to one of the M1s in his pit box but said he didn’t get chance to try it and, like the latest aerodynamics, will continue testing different options during the final pre-season test in Portimao on March 11-12. The 2023 engine spec however, now looks to be decided.

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