Franco Morbidelli had outdone all of his grand prix team-mates until he found himself paired with Fabio Quartararo in MotoGP last season.

The Italian had faced down the likes of Julian Simon, Mika Kallio, Alex Marquez and Thomas Luthi prior to joining Quartararo at the new Petronas Yamaha squad.

But the young Frenchman was able to do what none of his predecessors had managed; outperform Morbidelli as a team-mate in both race results and the world championship standings.

“The 2019 season was also an important lesson, it was maybe the first time that I was beaten by my team-mate, and believe me, it hurts," said Morbidelli, who was tenth in last year's standings with a best finish of fifth, compared with seven podiums and fifth overall for rookie Quartararo.

"Having Quartararo as team-mate is a source of pressure, but also a consistent motivation to grow. From Fabio I learned his hard-work ethic," Morbidelli added.

"Over the winter I trained harder than ever on the bike, and I increased the number of hours in the gym. I also put order in my life, changing small but important habits. I tackled the winter training more focused and determined."

That focus ultimately transferred into second overall at the final pre-season test in Qatar, just 0.033s behind factory Yamaha's Maverick Vinales.

“I feel I’m facing the 2020 season as a better rider and a better athlete. I have the right mindset," Morbidelli told the Monster Energy website.

The former Moto2 world champion has a slightly different M1 to Quartararo, Vinales and Valentino Rossi this season, but so far doesn't appear to be at a disadvantage.

"I’m feeling very good on the bike, and I aim at improving myself. Last year, I did some decent results, but I want more. My target? Riding faster and fighting for the podium”.

If, or perhaps when, Morbidelli reaches the MotoGP podium, he will become only the third rider on the current grid - alongside Danilo Petrucci and Cal Crutchlow - to do so from a background in production racing, winning the 2013 European Superstock 600 title prior to switching across to Moto2.

"I am a rider who didn’t arrive to MotoGP through the normal path of Moto3 and Moto2, as the majority of other riders do. On the contrary, my background is Superbike," he said.

"Despite that, I succeeded in winning the Moto2 championship. I have had some good results in MotoGP, and now I want to achieve more, I want to improve. I am aware that I am a fast rider, and I can be even faster."

One of the biggest influences on Morbidelli as a racer and person is his mentor and now MotoGP rival Valentino Rossi.

“I was one of the first riders to join Valentino at The Ranch. I think the year was 2012. There were only the ovals at that time and “the Americana” challenges with Valentino, Marco Simoncelli, and Mattia Pasini remain epic," said Morbidelli.

“Being part of the VR46 Academy makes me feel more responsible. If a rider like Valentino believed in me, it means that he saw something in me that I didn't know. From the moment I understood this, I always tried to push myself to limits that I did not know I could achieve.

“I learned a lot from training at the Ranch with Rossi, from his advice, but also from simply watching how he moves, how he rides.

"Just think of a kid who plays football and trains every day with Lionel Messi! I know Vale since I was 13. At the beginning I was emotional, and then I started to divide the rider from the friend. I learned a lot from him as a person.

“From Valentino, the rider, I learned to love what we are doing, not only on track during the races, but also while training. From the man, I learned that simplicity is something that adds value, not the other way around."

While Quartararo has already agreed on a move to the factory Monster Yamaha team in 2021, Morbidelli is among the majority of riders still to sign.