Valentino Rossi said he has noticed a change within Yamaha from the summer break after he and his factory stable-mates completed an impressive weekend at the Red Bull Ring.

The 40-year old knew as early as Friday morning’s FP1 that some of the M1’s notable weaknesses – mainly traction and acceleration – were much improved, especially compared to the performance in Austria last year.

Indeed Rossi placed fourth in Sunday’s race, sandwiched between Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales, his own race time a full twelve seconds quicker than 2018.

“At the end it’s a good weekend with a quite good race,” said the Italian. “On paper we’re supposed to suffer a lot here in Austria like in the past. But from the beginning in FP1 we see something good.

“We improve, especially the constancy and the grip of the tyres. I did a very good start and very good fast laps. I was strong and was able to cover a lot of positions.

“I was in a good position to fight for the podium but unfortunately the guys in front of me – especially Dovi and Marquez, but also a little bit Quartararo – were stronger than me. So I wasn’t able to go with Fabio.

“But in the end it’s a positive result because I suffer a bit at the end. Viñales and Rins recover to me but I was able to ride well and arrive in front. In the end the fourth place is not so bad.”

Rossi was at a loss to explain his lack of speed before the summer break. Then he had endured four torrid weekends, which included three crashes at Mugello, Montmeló and Assen, and a subdued showing in Germany, where he finished eighth.

What has changed since then? “We are quite happy especially because it looks like the second half of the season start in a better way,” he explained. “The first one we had very, very negative races.

“[But] It looks like something moved in Yamaha and Yamaha started to work harder and in a better way to improve the bike. When we arrived here on Friday we understand that we make a step in the electronics and acceleration and we can be more competitive because we always suffer at this track.

“So this is the most important thing. For sure we have a lot of work to do, because especially Dovi and Marquez with the factory Ducati and Honda are faster than us but it’s a good way to restart.

“Now we have a week of rest after two races in row. After we have Silverstone. I hope for good weather because I like a lot the track and it looks like with the new asphalt with better grip and less bump we can be strong with the Yamaha.”

After a fine start on Sunday, Rossi was powerless to maintain the pace of Quartararo ahead. The difference, he felt, was the rookie’s decision to choose Michelin’s soft rear tyre, a compound the Italian “suffered” with during practice.

“It looks like he suffers less with the rear tyre so he can put the soft. Today it’s a good condition for the soft because it’s more cold than yesterday. But for me during the practice I suffer very much with the soft rear. Also in the time attack.

“So I think the better choice for me is the medium for the race distance. But when you race with the medium you have a little less grip and also this weekend Quartararo did a fantastic job and he was fast.”

 

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