Valentino Rossi says he has a lot of support from Petronas SRT amidst his worst-ever start to a MotoGP season in the nine-time grand prix world champion’s career.

From the first four races so far in 2021, Rossi has scored just four points with a best result of 12th in the opening Qatar Grand Prix – and even that came after he slid down the order from a strong fourth in qualifying.

Rossi registered his worst-ever qualifying result of his career with 21st in the Doha GP and has been 17th on the grid in the last two races, with the SRT rider emerging from last weekend’s Spanish GP without points in 17th. By contrast, on the same spec of Yamaha, factory riders Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo have won three of the first four races between them.

Rossi’s main issue continues to be a lack of rear grip from his M1, which has dogged him in recent years.

With a decision on his racing future expected in the coming races, Rossi admitted during the Jerez weekend he didn’t feel under pressure with his current form – while noting after the race that the team still has his back.

“It was a difficult race on a difficult weekend, in which at no time did I have a rhythm,” Rossi said after the Spanish GP. “It is a difficult moment, but the team, Petronas, is supporting me a lot.

“I have problems with the set-up and I am not going fast. You have to find a solution at a technical level.

“We have to be optimistic and stay motivated.”

Rossi evaluated some new set-up ideas and parts from Yamaha during the post-race test at Jerez on Monday, finishing the day 12th fastest.

He was pleased with the progress made, though appears to be working more on recouping the time he’s losing under acceleration in braking instead.

“We have desperate need to improve the pace, the feeling with the bike because we struggled a lot during the weekend,” he said. “The feeling is not so bad.

“We finished the day with a good feeling, especially because I feel better on the bike and I’m able to ride in a better way and I improved my pace a lot. We worked well with the team, mainly on the setting to improve braking.

“Also Yamaha brought some new stuff that worked well, all which gave a small help to improve the feeling and the speed. I don’t feel comfortable with the bike, with my riding I’m a bit in delay and also this creates problems in acceleration because a lot of time I have a problem with rear grip on exit, I’m not able to exit from the corner fast enough.

“So, we worked a lot on the setting with David [Munoz], with front for settings, also weight distribution for [corner] entry in a faster way, for deeper and enter the corner with more speed.

“This is the target and we improved.”

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