Petronas SRT rider Valentino Rossi says he “had to struggle” in the MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix having “stressed” his rear tyre too much on his Yamaha.
The 42-year-old managed to qualify fourth on his SRT debut, but admitted on Saturday he didn’t feel he was strong enough to fight for a 200th MotoGP podium come the race.
Rossi struggled all weekend to get endurance out of the soft rear tyre and quickly faded from fourth to 12th by the chequered flag – 10.7 seconds adrift of race winner Maverick Vinales on the factory team Yamaha.
“We expected more for sure,” Rossi said of his race. “Especially after the qualifying, but in the race I was struggling very much.
“After some laps I got into trouble with the tyres and unfortunately this also happened on Friday.”
“After some laps we had some trouble with the rear tyre.”
“For some reason I stressed the rear tyre too much. And the rear tyre lost performance, so after some laps I wasn’t fast enough.”
“This also happened during the race. We hoped for less problems because the temperature was better, but the feeling was similar.
“After, the race it was difficult, I had to struggle a lot. Everybody was [up] there so I lost a lot of positions. It wasn’t the race we expected.”
Tyre endurance is an existing issue on the M1, with Fabio Quartararo also getting into trouble late in the race but managed to salvage fifth on the other works team Yamaha.