Factory Yamaha MotoGP rider Franco Morbidelli admits that he was left upset to be denied a single point not by his opponents but by the FIM MotoGP stewards after Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas.
His difficult weekend came to an even worse end in the final sector of the race when he was (he believes unfairly) docked a place for exceeding track limits.
The Yamaha rider made it to the end of another difficult race weekend at the Circuit of the Americas battling fellow Yamaha rider Andrea Dovizioso for the final points-scoring place of the race as something of a consolation prize – and thought he had it in the bag when he crossed the line in front of the satellite rider, only to see the place then stripped away from him when he was demoted one place on review by the stewards.
But, with Morbidelli adamant that he had done nothing wrong – and perhaps once again highlighting just how inconsistent MotoGP’s stewarding can be – he went directly to see the team of three headed by former multiple world champion Freddie Spencer to argue his case.
“Dovi tried to overtake me in the second last corner,” Morbidelli explained to The Race afterwards, “and because of him trying to overtake me and going wide to do it, I went off the track and I went onto the green. I lost the position, I lost ground, I made for sure the worst acceleration ever. Then Dovi went wide in the last corner and I overtook him and got it back.
“So after the race, they took the position off me, but actually analyzing what happened and analyzing what is actually written in the rule book, which is not very specific on how much you should lose if you lose the position as well on the last lap, let’s see.
“But I need to take back the position and for sure in the future, they will make a more clear rule on this in the future that will keep the racing craft alive in the last laps but more clear and more specific.”
And while it might not seem like something worth fighting too hard for, after a difficult weekend for Morbidelli he admitted that he was keen to take even one single point from what otherwise was a trip to the USA without much concrete to show for it.
“I spoke with Freddie and I think they’re going to give me back the point,” he added, “because finally after what happened – we need to be certain, but it looks like they’re going to give me back the point and it’s an important point because after a tough weekend, to get one point, after this kind of racecraft and what we did for the race, it’s an important point.”
Should the stewards give Morbidelli back the point, we might not get official confirmation until the Thursday of MotoGP’s next weekend in Portimao in two weeks’ time.
Morbidelli will be hoping he’s convinced the stewards that he only exceeded the track limits because he was forced off the track and that he didn’t gain a significant amount of time over Dovizisio.
Keen after Saturday’s practice and qualifying sessions to use Sunday morning’s warm up session to trial something very different with the Yamaha M1, that plan didn’t come together when a technical problem with his number one bike (the only one with the new setting installed) meant that he was forced to sit out the session.
Jumping straight into the race with it instead, meant that he had a lot of adaptation to do on the fly on a bike that clearly still needs further refinement – but while the result might have been poor, it at least means that there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel now for him.
“We started with a new setting because I didn’t have a chance to try it in warm up,” he said, “so I tried it in the race and had to go lap by lap adapting to it.
“I liked it more, but it needs to be worked more because it has a different balance. The speed wasn’t great but at least I was able to overtake. I made a lot of passes, then I made a big mistake and I went wide, and I was able to catch back and to overtake again.
“We still need to find a base setting because we’ve changed some things on the bike to get some grip back and we found some – but we lost something else. We need to put everything together now – the cornering I had in the first races with this kind of grip performance I have now, and it’ll take some time.
“I need to be happy because we made some steps forward in the weekend. We made steps forward because of this, but we made steps backwards as well because of the different path we took. We lost a little bit of overall performance, but there are good things I want to keep and we just need to make a combo of the good things from now and the good things from before.”