Franco Morbidelli rates the opening half of his first MotoGP season with the Petronas Yamaha team as 7.5 out of 10.

The Italian, 15th overall during his rookie premier-class season on a Marc VDS Honda, has taken two fifth places and a pair of front row starts on the factory-spec M1.

But the biggest surprise is that Morbidelli has been left in the wake of rookie team-mate Fabio Quartararo, on the lower spec machine. The young Frenchman powering to three pole positions, five front rows, two podiums and two fastest race laps.

Both team-mates have suffered three non-scores along the way, but Quartararo has harvested 15 points more than Morbidelli from the other rounds and is eighth compared to eleventh in the world championship.

"I would rate the season 7.5 so far," Morbidelli said. "We’ve been fast but not consistent. We’re in eleventh in the championship and I think we deserve a bit better, but I made some mistakes that I shouldn't have.

"We might not have what I think we deserve, but the battle from me to sixth is very close, and we’ve got the second half of the season to score as many points as possible and move up the order.

“There is a really big group of riders that can fight for the top positions and it’s great to be in that fight… With the fight so close, it’s small details, circuit characteristics and luck that make the difference. This motivates us to work even harder for success.

“Assen was the best overall race of the year so far for me, but in Argentina I was in the fight for the podium too [before the accident with Vinales].”

Although Morbidelli is the lowest-ranked Yamaha rider in the standings, recent rounds have seen the former Moto2 world champion mirror the difficulties suffered by factory star and mentor Valentino Rossi, while Quartararo and Vinales have seemed immune to the problems.

“I would like to improve the grip under acceleration during the second part of the year. For sure it’s our weak point and where we need to work," Morbidelli said. "The team and Yamaha are doing a great job and I’m sure we are going to make improvements race by race.

“The numbers say that I’m better in the second half of the season... and there are many circuits that I love like my home race in Misano and the Malaysian GP, that will be really special for all the team.

"I don’t see why targeting the podium isn’t possible, but for now the plan for the summer break is to target the areas where we’re lacking and to also recharge ready for the second half of the year, and that’s best done on the beach!”

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