Franco Morbidelli, winner of three races and runner-up in the 2020 MotoGP season, did not have a great year in 2021. Rhythm problems marked the first half of his campaign, in which he competed in the colors of Petronas SRT , using a Yamaha two years old.
He was forced to stop racing from the Dutch GP , held in June, as he needed to recover from knee surgery, until his return in September at the San Marino GP. When he got back on a bike, Morbidelli had already been promoted to the official Yamaha team, which offered him a two-year contract, to replace Maverick Viñales.
Despite only having scored seven points in the last five races of the 2021 season, already as the official rider of the tuning fork brand, Marco Meregalli , Yamaha team boss, believes that Morbidelli returned “too soon” to competition, but knows that the Italian “suits very well” to the M1.
“What I expect from Franco is a kind of revenge after what happened last season, as too many [bad] things happened to him,” Meregalli said.
“He started off pretty well, then he got injured, decided to have surgery and then moved up to the factory team.”
“It is possible that he wanted to get on the bike too soon, looking for a shorter recovery, but he was probably even worse. He used the last few races to get used to the new team, to the new factory bike.”
“But I am very curious to see Franco in good shape, riding the bike as he was used to before getting injured.”
“He is used to riding this bike, we know it suits our M1 very well.”
Morbidelli showed himself to be in solid form in February’s pre-season testing in Indonesia on the 2022 Yamaha, finishing the days of testing in fifth place overall. However, he admits that his riding style is still more “tied” to the 2019 bike he was previously riding.
“I need to improve the feeling with the bike,” said Morbidelli when asked by Motorsport.com what he needs from the new package that Yamaha has given him.
“I just got on the bike in a good [physical] condition in Sepang, so we started our work with Patrick [Primmer, his crew chief] there, we started building a base and finally we have a good base. here [in Indonesia]”.
“And we’ve managed to get better and better during the three days we’ve been here, and we’ve managed to squeeze the performance and see interesting things.”
So I still need to find more of a feel for the bike and get to know it better. It behaves differently than the ’19, I still feel more attached to the ’19 than the ’22. the ’22’.
The 2022 MotoGP season begins this weekend in Qatar, at the Losail International Circuit which, once again, hosts the opening round of the MotoGP world championship.