Valentino Rossi qualified for the 20th and penultimate starting position in the seventh and last row at the US Grand Prix. The Yamaha rider fell on his second attempt in Q1 and was luckily uninjured. It was Rossi’s ninth fall in the 2021 MotoGP season.
If you take a look at the statistics, that’s a negative record for the 41-year-old. In the (short) season 2020 he had six falls, in 2019 and 2018 eight each were counted. In the years before that, a Rossi on the ground was a rarity.
There were four falls each in 2017 and 2016. And in 2015 Rossi only had two slip-ups in the entire season, and not a single one of them in one race. It was then that he had his last chance for a world title, which he did not win at the controversial final in Valencia.
“I felt better today than yesterday,” said Rossi of his day. “It didn’t go too badly in FT3, my time attack was sensible. We then improved the pace a little for FT4. I was doing quite well and we tried out different tires at the rear.”
“With the first tire it wasn’t so bad in Q1. With the second tire it was very chaotic on the track, I had a lot of traffic. Then I attacked, but the front wheel slipped away,” said Rossi, explaining his crash in the corner 5.
Pace not fantastic, tire choice open
“It’s a shame because I have to start from very far back. It won’t be easy because my pace is not fantastic either. We have to keep working in the warm-up and make the right choice of tires.”
“The tire choice is particularly open at the rear. At the front, I think almost everyone will use the hard tire. Some motorcycles can use the soft rear tire, but not Yamaha,” says Rossi. “With us it will be decided between medium and hard.”
Valentino Rossi will start his last race in the USA from the back row of the grid.
Photo: Motorsport Images
“I’ve tried both, but the decision is difficult because it’s different in the afternoon than in the morning. Sunday could be the hottest day of the weekend. We’ll see.”
“Physically it will be very strenuous for all drivers in the race because this track is difficult. There are hard braking zones and a lot of bumps. It should also be hot. It will be hard work for everyone.”
Praise for half-brother Luca Marini
Rossi couldn’t be happy about 20th place. In return, his VR46 drivers performed well again. Francesco Bagnaia took third pole position in a row, Franco Morbidelli made progress in 13th.
Luca Marini, who set the fastest time in Q1 and finally finished ninth, showed a good qualifying. After eighth in Portimao, that was the second-best qualifying result of his rookie season. “Luca took a big step in the Misano test,” said Rossi, praising his half-brother.
“They changed something on the bike there. I think that’s his real potential now. When we train together, he is very fast and strong on the ranch, but also on the Panigale. He has not had his real potential this season so far Showing potential. I think he can do better. Today he did well. I hope he can have a good race.”