The rear grip problems that have haunted Valentino Rossi in the opening rounds of the 2021 MotoGP season continued unabated during Friday practice for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

"Difficult day, my pace is a bit better than the time attack, but I'm not fast enough," Rossi said.

"I have a similar problem because I always suffer very much with the rear grip, especially after some laps, for me it's difficult with the rear tyre because I slide a bit too much."

Two different bike set-ups had given "very similar" results.

"So we are not able at this moment to fix the problem… We need to try to find some more grip. But sincerely we don’t have a lot of ideas, already today we tried something different but we are still a bit in trouble."

While Rossi's grip problems seem worse than ever this season, partly due to the ultra-close nature of MotoGP, The Doctor has been speaking of similar issues since the start of the Michelin era in 2016.

"Yes, in the last years I suffer a lot of times this problem. Sometimes it's a bit different, but it's very similar," Rossi explained.

"Especially in the last years and when we changed also the tyre, now it looks like the rear tyres are very soft [construction] and usually in all my career I always prefer hard tyres.

"So for this reason I suffer a lot, especially after some laps because the rear moves very much.

"But, these are the tyres and the others are able to be strong with them, so we need to try to manage this situation.

"Jerez is also a critical track for the rear grip, especially in the last years. But anyway, the problem, what I feel when I ride, is this and I'm not able to ride at the maximum."

Just nine months ago at the same circuit, Rossi had been a competitive second fastest during Friday practice and went on to claim his 199th MotoGP podium in the race.

The Italian hasn't been on the rostrum since and the new Petronas Yamaha rider, who has a best finish of twelfth place so far this year, admitted he cannot be happy with the current situation:

"To ride the bike and be here and work is great, but the results are crucial. So you need to be strong.

"Maybe you don't always have to win, but to fight for the podium, to fight for the important positions.

"So for that reason I'm not happy because I'm not fast… when you are slow it's not very fun."

A strong result would not only put a smile back on Rossi's face but influence his upcoming decision on whether to continue racing in 2022, something that he says is not currently weighing on his mind.

"I don’t feel a lot of pressure, sincerely, and I feel good physically, the problem is that I'm not fast enough! I don’t have any other particular problems!" he smiled.

The other Yamahas of Fabio Quartararo, Franco Morbidelli and Maverick Vinales were second, fourth and fifth respectively during Friday practice, which saw the top 14 covered by less than one-second.

 

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