After the huge accident with Johann Zarco one week earlier, Franco Morbidelli admitted to being a bit cautious through the same flat-out Turn 2 kink during Sunday's Styrian MotoGP.

"I was a little bit shy in Turn 2, yes. But I think like everybody, not just me," said the Petronas Yamaha rider. "Because I’ve also seen Johann making a similar overtake that he did with me in Turn 2, but he was keeping a tighter line than [last weekend].

"That means before going in, he was rolling off, and he was keeping more margin. I think that every rider after the accident was more careful in that corner."

Morbidelli also admitted to feeling some extra tension when he and Zarco met on track, but the Frenchman's eventual pass was in form of a "nice and clean" move at Turn 9. "He did a good job."

"I was hoping that he wasn’t overtaking me again in Turn 2," Morbidelli said, "because clearly he had the better pace and I saw him coming. I was wondering where he was going to overtake me, but he overtook me very nice and clean in Turn 9. He did a good job."

The pair swapped 15th place on lap 2 of the 12-lap restart, after Zarco had been forced to begin the original race from pit lane due to a penalty for the previous Sunday's clash.

Despite riding with the fractured scaphoid in his right wrist, a legacy of their accident, Zarco went on to reach 14th at the finish. Morbidelli remained one place behind him at the end of a "very difficult day" and "very strange weekend."

"Strange in the sense that in practice it looked like we had decent pace to go for fifth, sixth, seventh position," the Italian explained.

"I got a good start [in race one], but then I made a big mistake out of Turn 3 and lost a lot of ground. Basically, from then on I needed to ride according to our weak points and not our strong points. So difficult races because of that.

"Anyway, I will take this one point with great pleasure because last week I was in a completely different mood and in a completely different situation after the race. So I’m happy about that.

"Now we will go home, rest a bit and go to Misano with great trust because in the 'cornery' tracks we’ve been quite fast so far. So I’m quite confident for my double home GP."

While Yamaha has won two races this season with team-mate and world championship leader Fabio Quartararo, plus further podiums for Maverick Vinales, Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi, no M1 rider finished in the top 8 on Sunday.

Given such mixed results, what does Morbidelli feel is the actual potential of the Yamaha this year?

"I think that this championship is really interesting because the balances are going up and down, sideways," he said. "One race you’re up there, the other race you’re down there. The only guy that seems to maintain a good average is Vale.

"The level of Yamaha I would say is very good because with Fabio he’s still first in the championship. I know that Yamaha struggled a bit more in this track, but this was a super difficult track for us.

"With the championship and with the bikes being so tight, it’s really easy to be up there or be down there.

"This actually was very much the worst track for us. If you can choose a corner that is not good for your bike, repeat it ten times and make a circuit, it would come out like Austria.

"So, basically that was what happened these two weekends, I think."

Morbidelli - who has suffered two DNFs already this season, at Jerez (engine) and Austria 1 (accident) - has now plummeted to eleventh in the world championship after being in third place before Austria.

 

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