Yamaha’s warning to Franco Morbidelli: ‘Important to be fast’

Massimo Meregalli has stated that Franco Morbidelli needs to ‘prove’ he can be fast in what is expected to be a defining season in his MotoGP career.
Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha MotoGP Portimao 2023
Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha MotoGP Portimao 2023

At great risk of being replaced at Yamaha should he fail to improve on last year, Morbidelli is facing high pressure heading into the 2023 MotoGP season.

Morbidelli struggled throughout last season and looked like a shell of the rider that finished runner-up to Joan Mir in 2020.

While teammate Fabio Quartararo found a major breakthrough on the final day of the Portimao test, Morbidelli again found it difficult as he ended pre-season testing with a disappointing P19 result.

But with that said, Morbidelli feels as though the smallest improvement could see him leap up the order. 

"These were busy days of testing," said Morbidelli: "We tried many things, did a lot of stuff, and did a lot of testing – that‘s what testing is for, so I‘m happy about that. 

"It will be important to analyse well the data we‘ve gathered and make the right choices for the race weekend.

"Looking at the standings, our result may seem bad, but in reality the gap is not so big, and the slightest improvement could move us up the order."

Franco Morbidelli, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March
Franco Morbidelli, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March

With Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jorge Martin just two names that have been rumoured as potential replacements for the Italian beyond 2023, bringing himself closer to Quartararo will be the first objective to remaining in blue.

After that, being a regular top ten finisher is the expectation despite Ducati and Aprilia seemingly having an edge over the rest of the grid. 

Portimao has been a good track for both Morbidelli and Quartararo in particular, so a strong start to the year is a real possibility, even if testing at the same circuit highlighted Yamaha’s shortcomings at times. 

Speaking about what the Japanese manufacturer wants to see from Morbidelli, Meregalli added: "It will be fundamental and important for [Morbidelli] to prove to be fast. Because we all know what he is capable of. 

"Last year he showed us in Sepang a really good performance. This is what we expect this season. I saw he was more aggressive. I hope to see him in the position that he needs to be."

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