On the eve of his return to a MotoGP bike during Official testing at Jerez on Wednesday, ahead of this weekend's Spanish season-opener, Franco Morbidelli spoke about his contract extension with Petronas Yamaha, goals for this season and the prospect of VR46 mentor Valentino Rossi being his future team-mate...

The new contract?

"I've renewed for two more years with Petronas SRT. It has been a wonderful first year and then we will see how this second year is going to be. But what I can say is that I feel great inside the team. We have great treatment from all our partners, especially Yamaha, and I'm just happy and it's just a pleasure to keep on racing in MotoGP and with Petronas SRT."

A-spec or Factory-spec bike for 2021?

"I cannot tell you because we don’t know yet."

If Rossi is your team-mate next year…

"It would be fantastic story for me because Vale is the person who put me into the racing world. Most of the things that I know about motorcycle racing, but not just motorcycle racing, I learned from him. So it would be a great story. But I can't talk too much about it, because as yet, nothing is fixed. So we have to see what will happen, and then maybe talk more."

Your goal for this season?

"The goal for this season as I always say is to improve on the results on the results of the previous year. For me last year was better than my first year in MotoGP and I hope that this year is going to be better again. What I can say is that I've put in a hell of a lot of work this winter."

"The truth is that I don't have much experience in Grand Prix races. I came from a different world, and last year was only my sixth year in Grand Prix, which is enough, but it's not much for a rider who is racing in MotoGP. So there are things that I have to learn, this is the truth. And I am going to try to learn the maximum that I can in the shortest time possible."

Is it time to bring home some podiums?

"For sure I have the chance. I have the bike and I have the team behind me. I have everything to do that. We will have to see if I will be good enough to do that."

Jerez 2019 was the first time you were fighting at the front in MotoGP…

"Yes, I did the beginning of the race in second spot. Number one was in front of me and I saw that it was reachable until I started to have some problems. But it was the first race that I realised number one wasn't so unreachable. I think that looking at me now and looking at me last year in this track, I think that now I am a little bit of a better ride than I was last year. So let's see what kind of work I can do here this weekend."

Strategy for 13 races in just 18 weekends?

"I don't know yet about my strategy, because I don't know yet about my speed. So I cannot make a strategy if I don't know how I will go. I know that I was fast, I was damn fast in Qatar and I was fast in Sepang. So I hope to keep on having that speed, and if I have that speed, I will just try to keep on fighting for top spots as much as I can, knowing that there is very little room for mistakes this year, because a mistake will weigh more than a 20-race championship.

Will you be conservative?

"No! I will just be more concentrated, more focused."

Will we see some surprises after so long without racing?

"For sure we will see that the balance is a little bit different because there has been a cut to the normal rhythm, and so now everybody is starting again. It's not going to be the same, but I don't know in which way."

How do you approach the test tomorrow?

"Everything I had to test, I tested in February, and also it wasn't too much there. So I'm quite free from that point of view, I can just focus on my riding style, setting up the bike well for the race weekend, and just go for it. That's my plan for tomorrow's test, and that's my plan for Friday."

Fabio seems to be in trouble for training on a special R1, what is the situation with your training bikes?

"We train with road [production] bikes and before doing that we had to check a rule book and we had to fulfil everything that the rulebook was asking. I don’t know in detail technically what you can put on the bike or not, because I didn't read the rulebook personally, but with VR46 we have people that work on that thing and follow that and made us go on track with road bikes in the most 'fair' or most respectful of the rulebook."

 

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