MotoGP Raceweek: Valentino Rossi fuelled by 2019 critics after return to form

By Sports Desk August 24, 2019

Valentino Rossi enjoyed his second place in qualifying for the British Grand Prix even more because of the criticism he has encountered in 2019.

The MotoGP icon, 40, now hopes to be in the mix with pole-sitter Marc Marquez on race day and end a long absence from the podium.

Rossi finished second in two of the first three races this season but has not returned to the podium since in a stretch of eight grands prix that included three straight retirements.

His poor run of form, and a gap of over two years since his last victory, has led to speculation that Rossi may contemplate retirement, but a fourth-place finish in Austria last time showed signs of life and now the Monster Energy Yamaha star has a higher placing in mind.

Rossi told reporters: "It's normal at my age and at my point of my career, if I make three very bad races, people start to say 'He's old, it's time to stay at home', it's like this. 

"For this reason I'm happier [with the result], because I know I can be competitive if I ride well.

"It's already a good result, but it is important on Sunday to make a good race and fight for the podium. I know I have the motivation and I can be strong, because also I feel good physically."

Rossi, who has his first front-row start since the third race of the year in Austin, believes the Silverstone circuit suits his Yamaha machine, but stressed the team have been making progress over recent weeks regardless of track suitability.

"The layout of the track, the radius of the corners are good for our bike, medium-fast," he said. "For sure the new asphalt with a good grip helps. 

"But in the last period Yamaha start to work in the right direction. They start to do clever things, change the situation very much compared to the last two years.

"The bike is better, we accelerate better, the bike is easier to ride in more or less every part of the corner. We are not fast enough on the straight, but on the rest I think we improve in general.

"Here at Silverstone is good for Yamaha but also in Austria we were not so bad."

Five-time world champion Marquez once again distanced himself from the rest of the field on Saturday, claiming his fourth straight pole and eighth from 12 races with a stunning lap that was a stunning 0.428seconds quicker than closest challenger Rossi.

He lost out to Dovizioso in a dramatic battle in Austria, but still leads the championship by 58 points and his Ducati title rival could only qualify seventh at Silverstone.

Marquez has only won in Britain once but is in a perfect spot to improve that record, while his Repsol Honda team-mate Jorge Lorenzo is back from injury but only qualified 21st as he continues to battle pain.
 

TECHNICAL ISSUE HAMPERS QUARTARARO

The closely matched chasing pack of Rossi, Jack Miller, Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales and Dovizioso were separated by under two tenths.

Australian Miller claimed his third front row of the season to celebrate his new deal with Pramac Racing, while Quartararo had been quickest in practice but fell short in Q2, later explaining a warning alarm for an unspecified technical problem hampered him.

The French rookie said: "The first row I think yes [was possible], because we are [0.010s behind] and in this lap I made many mistakes. 

"From the second sector of my first lap I had an alarm on my dashboard. I decided to finish my lap and then go to the box to check the problem. We had to change the bike and didn't have time to change the tyre. But we have a good pace and we'll give everything."

HOME HOPE CRUTCHLOW FRUSTRATED AFTER CRASH

Hopes of a good home result lie with LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow, but he endured a poor qualifying session, crashing at Stowe while on his final flying lap.

That left him ninth on the grid, his worst Silverstone performance since 2014, with plenty of work to do to do in his 150th race as he looks to bounce back from a retirement in Austria.

"Bit of an amateur mistake to be honest, braked a bit too deep," Crutchlow said of his crash. "We looked on the data afterwards and I was so close to pulling it down, and if I would have pulled it down, I would have gained a big chunk of time.

"That was why I committed to the corner, because I knew how deep I'd braked, I knew I had to be smoother and not lock the rear, because it would have sent me on anyway, but I committed to it.

"On my actual timed lap I lost three tenths in one corner, that would have put me into the 1:58s. This is the way it is. I can't complain, I did the mistake myself and that's it. It's what happens when you push."
 

THE GRID

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
4. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
5. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
6. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
9. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
11. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
12. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: No race due to poor weather
2017: Andrea Dovizioso
2016: Maverick Vinales (for Suzuki)
2015: Valentino Rossi

TITLE STANDINGS

Riders

1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 230
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 172 (-58)
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 136 (-94)
4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 124 (-106)
5. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) 103 (-127)

Teams

1. Ducati 308
2. Repsol Honda 259 (-49)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 205 (-103)
4. Suzuki Ecstar 163 (-145)
5. Petronas Yamaha 150 (-158)

WEATHER FORECAST

A dry, hot race is expected at Silverstone on Sunday, much like conditions for qualifying. Temperatures for the race could potentially reach 30 degrees celcius.

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    Carlos Sainz finished seventh for McLaren at the Japanese Grand Prix, behind both Ferraris, Mercedes and Red Bulls.

    He is sixth in the drivers' championship as McLaren return to competitiveness after a series of struggles, with the eight-time constructors champions able to enjoy mixing it at the front of races again.

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    "It sounds a bit disappointing to me because it's really tough to keep doing it every weekend. But we've been very strong and I'm very proud of it."

    Meanwhile, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl rejected talk of a concept change for 2020 will put the progress they have made in jeopardy.

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    RACEWEEK SCHEDULE (all times local)

    Friday
    FP1 (10:00-11:30)
    FP2 (14:00-15:30)

    Saturday
    FP3 (10:00-11:00)
    Qualifying (13:00-14:00)

    Sunday
    Race (13:10-15:10)

    F1 FACT

    PREVIOUS WINNERS

    2018: Max Verstappen
    2017: Max Verstappen
    2016: Lewis Hamilton

    DRIVER STANDINGS

    1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 338
    2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 274 (-59)
    3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 221 (-117)
    4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 212 (-126)
    5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 212 (-126)

    CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

    1. Mercedes 612
    2. Ferrari 433 (-179)
    3. Red Bull 323 (-289)
    4. McLaren 111 (-501)
    5. Renault 77 (-535)

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