Franco Morbidelli completed a promising pair of debut MotoGP tests for the new Petronas Yamaha Sepang team with sixth place (+0.173s) during the final outing of the year at Jerez.
That matched his position (+0.217s) in the previous Valencia test, leaving both team and rider more than content as they head for the winter break.
“I’m really happy about the testing result. We tried lots of stuff and worked a lot. I was trying to adapt to the bike and learn. It was a good process at these two tests and I’m pleased with the job we’ve done,” Morbidelli said.
The former Moto2 champion, a best of eighth during his rookie MotoGP season on a Marc VDS Honda, has been trying to morph towards the smoother style required for the M1.
“This bike is really smooth and to be fast I think you have to be smoother and try to flow,” he said. “This is what I’m trying to do at the moment and I’m happy with how it went.”
“We have good speed on new tyres, but we need to improve the pace… We struggle on used tyres, that is no secret.
“When you put on a new tyre you have a lot of grip and then you have an initial drop sooner or later. Usually the harder the tyre is, the later the initial drop.
“But when this initial drop happens, we struggle more than the others.”
He added: “I need more grip. I don’t have any idea [how to fix it]. I tried to give my feedback to the Yamaha guys and just let them do their job and I hope they will work in a good direction.”
Morbidelli will start next season with the same specification of machinery as Rossi and Vinales, who were trying 2019 engine specifications at Jerez aimed at addressing the rear grip issues.
Perhaps because of the grip drop, Morbidelli was cautious to avoid any predications regarding what he can fight for in 2019.
“I think we need to wait a little bit more to understand where we will finish in 2019. It’s still 2018, so let’s wait and we’ll see after a few races next year.”
One thing Morbidelli is certain of is the capability of his new team, which is “working brilliantly”.
“It’s all brand new for us, but we’ve started on the right foot,” he added.
“Everything is going well so far and will just get better as we spend more time together and fix the things that we are missing now, even if they are not a lot.
“It has started very well.”
Morbidelli and rookie team-mate Quartararo (twelfth at Jerez) will next be on track at the team’s home circuit in Malaysia, during the opening official test of 2019 from February 6-8.