Franco Morbidelli, runner-up in the MotoGP world in 2020 as a rider for the Yamaha satellite team, at the time the Sepang Racing Team, has not found a way out of the hole he got into before the summer break last season, when he he injured his left knee practicing motocross and had to undergo surgery.
Those five races of inactivity took their toll on him, as surely did the fact of returning clad in the overalls of the official team of the tuning fork brand, replacing Maverick Viñales, and with the added pressure that this entailed.
Since his reappearance, in San Marino, his best result is the eleventh place he achieved, both in the last test of 2021 (Valencia), and in the one held last Sunday, in Sepang, where he actually crossed the finish line tenth before that a three-second penalty, for colliding with Aleix Espargaró in an overtaking on the last lap, made him lose a place.
Either way, Morbidelli put on a remarkably revamped version in Malaysia, where he started seventh, his best starting position of the course, and where he had his best race despite having to serve two long lap penalties.
When it comes time to explain the step forward taken by the Roman rider, Lin Jarvis, Yamaha’s top manager in MotoGP, resorts to a change in approach that has recently been applied on that side of the garage. A variation that, in short, leaves the rider a little more outside of the more technical decisions about the configuration of his bike.
“Franco wants to understand all the technical aspects of the bike. Sometimes that helps, but there are also other times when the rider becomes too involved in the set-up, instead of just conveying his feelings and his needs and let the technicians and engineers do their job,” Jarvis told Motorsport.com.
“There are times when Morbidelli gets too involved in the technical issue, but with this new approach it is the team that decides those aspects of the bike,” adds the head of the tuning fork brand, who points in several directions when it comes to to explain the reasons that, in his opinion, allow us to understand the slump of #21 in the last year.
“Franky promoted to the factory team early [after the Viñales deal was resolved], and when he did he was injured. In the winter he resolved his knee problems, so we definitely expected more from him this season. Half a season without racing didn’t help him”, argues Jarvis, who, logically, also looks at the other side of the workshop: “Also, having a teammate as fast as Fabio is never easy”.
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