Petronas Yamaha have endured a difficult start to the 2021 MotoGP season, with both Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli scoring just four points each. 

It’s also the worst two race start in terms of results for Rossi during his premier class MotoGP career. 

Rossi's decision regarding continuing beyond this year will very much depend on results, and a return to Europe might be exactly what the nine-time world champion requires. 

The double header in Qatar saw Rossi finish 12th in race one, and 16th in race two, while factory riders Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo both took a victory each on identical M1 machines. 

While Yamaha struggled at the Algarve International Circuit last year, except for Morbidelli on the 19 spec M1 who finsihed third, Rossi is excited about the challenge. 

"The Portimao circuit is fantastic, it’s something different to all of the rest, but on the other side of things, it’s very difficult," said Rossi. 

"It’s a track that you need a lot of time to learn and every time you race there you can improve on something. 

"We found some new settings on the bike on the Sunday morning warm-up session of the DohaGP, which meant that I was able to maintain a better pace but we were hampered for the bad starting position. 

"We hope that we can be stronger at this third GP and be more competitive, but also in Europe as a whole – there are a lot of tracks there that are good for me."

This Sunday’s race means a second opportunity for Yamaha at Portimao to assess whether the perceived improvements made in 2021 are indeed the case. 

Both Vinales and Quartararo spoke at length during the pre-season and following both Qatar rounds about waiting until a return to Europe, before crowning the new bike better overall than last year. 

And with Rossi, Vinales, and Quartararo all finishing outside the top ten in Portimao last season, we’re sure to get an answer come Sunday. 

 

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