Valentino Rossi began preparations for his 26th grand prix season, and first at the Petronas Yamaha team, during the start of Official MotoGP testing in Qatar on Saturday.

"26 seasons is quite impressive. It's a life, not a career!" Rossi smiled.

"But I feel good, I know that the game is very hard because there are a lot of young riders and in MotoGP now the level is very high and everybody is very strong.

"But I will give the maximum for sure. I trained hard during this winter. I feel quite good and we'll see.

"This morning I was very excited because it's the start of a new adventure. New colours, new team, new everything and this gives me a lot of motivation, a lot of strength for work.

"It was strange at the beginning but at the end the bike is always my M1, so even if she changed the dress, the rest is the same and the team has a good atmosphere."

The Italian featured as top Yamaha on several occasions during the day, eventually finishing 14th on the timesheets (+0.897s) after 49 laps in his new colours. Rossi was one place ahead of Fabio Quartararo, the rider he has swapped seats with for 2021.

"The end result is not fantastic but during all day I was not so bad, my pace was quite good, so the first touch is positive," he said.

The top priority for Yamaha during the five days of testing is to solve last year's inconsistent performances from the Factory-spec machine.

The chassis is the main focus, each rider appearing to having one standard bike and another machine fitted with development parts.

"Yamaha worked hard this winter, we have some new stuff to try, but sincerely today we don’t try a lot," Rossi said. "We work more on the base but I think in the next four days we have something to try, so we hope it's something good.

"I did some laps with the new chassis and the first touch is not so bad, but I did just 6-7 laps because we concentrated on the standard bike today. So maybe we will have a clearer idea in the next days."

Team-mate and MotoGP title runner-up Franco Morbidelli (who uses the A-Spec Yamaha) was again the top M1 rider, in seventh, with Quartararo's Monster Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales ninth quickest.

 

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