Valentino Rossi: It was terrifying
During his 25-years in motorcycle grand prix racing, Valentino Rossi has been in plenty of dangerous situations.
When the pair tangled at almost 300km/h, their bikes became unguided missiles heading straight for the riders ahead, who were negotiating the slow Turn 3 right-hander.
Zarco's Ducati smashed into an airfence before flying across the track in front of Maverick Vinales, while Morbidelli's 157kg bike – in scenes few are likely to forget – cartwheeled miraculously through a small gap between the sister Yamahas of Vinales and Rossi.
"I think Valentino Rossi is the luckiest guy in the world. I watched the bike jump straight over his head," said KTM's Brad Binder.
Rossi instantly knew how close he had been to disaster, putting his hands on his head as he parked outside the Monster Yamaha pits and remaining visibly shocked as he sat waiting for the restart.
"It was so scary. It was terrifying," Rossi said after the race. "We have to pray to somebody, everybody has to pray to who he decides. But, f**k. I feel bad. I was scared, very much. Because today was very dangerous."
The nine-time world champion admitted it was "very difficult" to go back out and concentrate for the restart, but "at the end, I don't have a choice. Because I don't want to say 'ciao' to everybody and go home. So I have to restart.
"You try to not think about it, but it's really difficult, and even now it's not easy. I spoke to my girlfriend already, she is destroyed! But I haven't spoken to my mother and Graziano. Now I will call them for sure. Especially Graziano."
Rossi went on to finish in fifth place as the top Yamaha after the restart, then - like VR46 Academy rider Morbidelli - had some strong words for Zarco when interviewed on Italian TV: "Zarco overtook Morbidelli on the straight and then didn't want to be overtaken by Franco in the braking, so he specifically went to brake in front of him.
"Race Direction must do something serious to Zarco, because in the last race in Brno he knocked out Pol Espargaró, even if he could have avoided the accident."
Upon hearing those comments, Zarco held a private meeting with Rossi to discuss what had happened and assure the #46 that he had done nothing deliberate.
While Zarco felt Rossi understood his version of events, the Italian still believes the Ducati rider 'braked in the face' of Morbidelli and called for greater respect between riders in all classes.
"Now, everybody is very aggressive in MotoGP, and also in the small classes. I can understand it, but for me it's important that we don't exaggerate [the risks]," Rossi said.
"You need to have respect for the other riders because we can't forget that this sport is very dangerous. Especially in a track where you have long straights and you always go at 300 km/h.
"What I said is that also from the small classes, you have a lot of riders who close the door in the face of the others when braking. In Italian we say "frenare in faccia", to 'brake in the face'.
"Zarco was very wide, and he 'brakes in the face' of Franco, maybe to not let Franco overtake him back in braking. But he's too close, and when you are at 300 km/h you have a lot of slipstream, and Franco didn't have any chance to brake [and avoid contact].
"At the end, there is a lot of risk. We risk a lot, especially me and Maverick. This was a potential disaster.
"I spoke with Zarco, face-to-face. I said this also to him. He said to me that he didn't do it on purpose. But anyway, aggressive is good, but braking in the face of the other riders, especially at 300 km/h is a potential disaster."
The 41-year-old added that the design of the track, which will host another round next weekend, was also a factor.
"I think that the Red Bull Ring is a bit dangerous in some places, especially when you have hard braking like this from 300 km/h to 50 km/h, and in the hairpin, you have to turn completely in the opposite direction," Rossi said.
"This is potentially a very dangerous place. But I think that it's more about the respect from the riders. This is more dangerous than the track, I think... Everybody has to think about this, not just some."