Valentino Rossi fears the Red Bull Ring may not play to the strengths of the Yamaha YZR-M1 in next month’s Austrian Grand Prix. The majority of the field took part in a two-day test in Spielberg this week ahead of the circuit’s return to the calendar and Rossi finished fifth quickest, behind a quartet of Ducatis and eight tenths off the pace.
With so many long straights and a relative lack of fast corners, Rossi is concerned that the venue will not suit his machine, although he did enjoy the challenge it provides for the riders.
“It‘s a very particular circuit because it is really, really fast and you spend a lot of time with the throttle fully open. Compared to the other circuits it has a lot less corners, at the end of the lap you have done only nine or ten, normally there are around fifteen. It‘s very fast and the place is good and the corners are OK. For us, personally, it‘s not the best circuit because usually we suffer a bit on top speed, and in fact we are struggling, but it‘s just the first day and we collected a lot of data and made some kilometres.”
Rossi also acknowledged the absence of Honda’s factory riders from the test and admits he isn’t sure where they will sit in the pecking order. The nine-time champion remains hopeful though that he can still be competitive when MotoGP arrives for the race weekend in three weeks’ time.
“It was two good days, especially today we improved the performance and the balance of the bike a lot, but also the track was better, with more rubber where we needed it. We were able to improve the lap times and our position and we‘re a little bit closer to the top guys. I think racing here will be very difficult because it‘s a fast track, so for sure it‘s not the best circuit for us or for the YZR-M1. We have to work and give the maximum to get the maximum. Already today, we made a step and now we‘ll see. We‘ll get some rest and take a holiday and we will see what happens when we come back in August. It will be a very difficult race, especially with some of our factory rivals, they are faster than us. It will be very important to also understand the potential of the other competitors, because some are not here. It will be interesting to see if we are a little bit faster or slower than them, but we‘ll have to wait for the race weekend.”