After having an afternoon to sample his current Yamaha M1 in wet conditions at the Austrian round of the 2018 MotoGP series, Valentino Rossi feels his machine is an upgrade over last year’s model in the rain, but is beset by similar to issues as those he regularly faces in the dry.

The Italian described last year’s bike as “dangerous” to ride in the wet at last season’s Malaysian Grand Prix, but feels this one is “a lot more easy to ride” when the rain comes down. Still, Rossi could only manage tenth place in the sodden FP2, his best lap 2.3s slower than pace setter Marc Marquez.

“Yes, in fact I did some laps also to make this comparison,” began the nine-time world champion. “Fortunately I feel better with the bike, the ‘18 bike is a lot more easy to ride, because you feel the grip better, and I feel quite comfortable. But our problem in acceleration with the electronics system becomes bigger in the wet, because the amount of grip is a lot less.

“And the gap between us and the top guys becomes very big, I gave two seconds to the top. And it's also more difficult. But the problem is the same. But the rest? Last year I didn't feel comfortable with the bike, and this year the bike works better, but we have to improve the same area as in the dry.”

What was his impression of the safety of the Red Bull Ring in wet conditions? “For me, I made some laps during the practice, because it's been a long time since we rode in the wet, and we have something different to try, but it's true that it rained very hard, but the track is not good, because it's very slippery, and the water remains on the track.

“And also you have that point, and also the braking for Turn 4, for example, where you have to brake on the edge, and it's very, very dangerous, you have to roll off the throttle.

“For me, in the last five for six minutes [of FP2], with that amount of water, it will be very difficult to race. Too dangerous. Also because in the straight, the bike makes a lot of aquaplaning, and a lot of spin, and it's not good. So we hope for the dry, but if it rains, it has to rain not a lot. If not, it becomes too dangerous.”

And the deflector under the belly-pan that intends to divert water around the rear tyre that he tried in FP2? 

“We tried this deflector to take out some water from the rear tire, and also for the aquaplaning. It's not so bad. I think it's good. But with this amount of water, anyway, we have a lot of aquaplaning, so it's not easy.”

On a complicated dry morning session during which his first bike suffered mechanical issues, Rossi said, “Our bike has some different strong points, apart from the acceleration, where we are suffering at this moment. Like you said, braking is very important, I think in braking, the Yamaha is not too bad, but for me, we are very close to Ducati and Honda.

“Our bike has maybe better corner speed, so in a track like Brno or Mugello, you can push in this point of view. But here in Austria, it's more difficult, because we don't have a lot of these corners.

“But we have to work in all the areas, and also in braking, for sure. Looks difficult, because here it looks like the gap with the top is bigger, and we suffer. Today I was a little bit unlucky, because I had a problem, I broke the good bike at the beginning.

“The other bike is quite different, especially in the setting, because we want to try something in the middle of the practice, but I didn't feel very comfortable. But the bigger problem is that I'm not in the top 10.

“But we have to try, because I think our potential is a little bit better. If I can go with my bike, I think we can stay a little bit closer, but it will be difficult. Because here, especially the Ducati but also Márquez, it looks like the gap is a bit bigger, unfortunately.”

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