Nine-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has said he “was never strong” and not fast enough after qualifying second last for the Doha Grand Prix.

The 42-year-old has had a tough start to the 2021 MotoGP season. After replacing Fabio Quartararo at Petronas Yamaha, he hasn’t had the measure of teammate and former VR46 Academy rider Franco Morbidelli.

He scored four points in Qatar courtesy of 12th place, but it will be a difficult second race as Losail after he qualified 21st out of 22. Morbidelli went automatically through to Q2 and qualified 10th.

He said of his pace: “[It was] A very difficult day because I was never strong. We tried to improve the feeling with the rear tire but I suffer very much. I have a lack of grip in acceleration and also, after some laps, I suffer a lot and my pace is not good.”

It’s his worst ever qualifying in his 25-year MotoGP career, his previous worst being 18th at the 2006 Assen TT, carrying an injury. Despite that, he thinks his pace was worse in his dreadful days with Ducati.

“For me it’s not my worst qualifying. I think I did worse with the Ducati!”

“I have a lot of problems with the [soft] rear tire but in FP3 with the hard tires there was a lot of wind and sand on the track, very different conditions and my lap time was but similar [to the other riders].”

Rossi will be aiming for a top 15 finish in todays Doha Grand Prix, to try and redeem a tough season start.

Journalist, writing various articles for ASN. MotoGP specialist and ASN's resident motorsports history nerd. Can generally be found screaming at stupid strategy choices while watching the tv.