Valentino Rossi will begin his 26th season as a Grand Prix rider this Sunday, as the 2021 MotoGP season gets underway at the Losail International Circuit. 

The Italian will also make his competitive debut for the Petronas SRT Yamaha team alongside good friend and a title favourite Franco Morbidelli

While Rossi has moved away from the factory team where he's spent the last nine years, the nine-time world champion remains on a full factory spec M1 like Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo

With FP1 less than 24 hours away, Rossi spoke to the media at the first official press conference of the year about the atmosphere of being back. 

"The atmosphere on the Thursday of the first race is always the same. It is like the first day at school and it is always exciting," said Rossi. 

"Also when you take all the pictures together on the grid you have the feeling that in a few hours everything starts.

"I changed teams after a long time but I feel good, the atmosphere is really good.

"The test was not so bad and now we have to see in a real race weekend where we stand."

One of the big storylines that came with his move to Petronas in 2021 was the fact he would be joining his 'good friend' Morbidelli, who he trains with away from racing. 

But while Rossi is happy to share the garage with his Sky VR46 academy rider, it is also a challenge he is excited about due to Morbidelli's form in 2020. 

Rossi added: "I’m very happy to have Franco as a team-mate because we are good friends.

"We stay a lot together in Tavullia training but also for the free time and I think he is one of the best riders in MotoGP at the moment like he demonstrated last year. For me it is a great motivation to try and fight with him."