Andrea Dovizioso’s lack of progress on the Yamaha bike so far has been painful for the MotoGP veteran – and it’s clear he won’t want to continue into 2023 without a clear step forward.
The three-time MotoGP runner-up had enjoyed what was effectively a career-revitalising season at Tech3 Yamaha back in 2012, but his second stint as part of the Yamaha fold has not gone to plan so far.
Having joined the Petronas Yamaha team mid-way through 2021 on an old-spec bike before being promoted to factory-spec machinery in what has now become RNF Yamaha, Dovizioso is still yet to finish within the top 10 in 10 attempts.
And though Portimao last week marked his best result as an RNF rider yet in 11th, he followed it up with his worst qualifying yet at Jerez – lapping a second off the pace in Q1 and ultimately placing 23rd on the grid.
“I expected more than what happened in these two days. I wanted to be a bit closer, a bit faster, than what I did in Portimao, because we finished the race in a good speed – but I couldn’t [be closer],” Dovizioso admitted.
“I’m still… I don’t know if it’s the right verb, but I’m locked. I’m locked from doing the right things, what the bike requests. And if you don’t do that, you can’t be fast in another way.”
Dovizioso has long maintained that the current iteration of the Yamaha M1 can be ridden fast only the way reigning champion Fabio Quartararo does – stressing that Quartararo makes up laptime by braking late and yet taking the turn at huge speeds rather than through leaning on rear grip on acceleration out of the corner.
“I’ve been struggling these two days,” he continued. “And instead of making a step forward, I stayed there. Very disappointing, starting really on the back, that’s very bad.”
Dovizioso said his only goal for Sunday would be to “try to find the flow” – something he says he hasn’t had with the M1 since his Yamaha return.
While he feels he hasn’t gone backwards in that time, Dovizioso indicated there was a feeling of stagnation.
“When you stay there [at that performance level] and you don’t make any small improvement, that hurts.
“Because you’re pushing, you’re trying, you’re doing the maximum with the team.
“But until you change that [riding style], there will be no effect. And to change that, it’s very difficult – in this moment for me it’s very difficult. And that is the reality.”
Dovizioso made it clear earlier this season that results will determine not only whether RNF wants to keep him, but whether he himself wants to continue.
And he acknowledged on Saturday that the current form was “for sure not what I want” for a potential 2023 stay.
“But, you know, MotoGP, every sport changes. It’s normal this can happen. And let’s see.
“Still there is a big push from Yamaha and the team to make something better. So I’m happy to feel that from them, so I will continue and I will try to change and make a step forward because I’m a person that when I feel some improvement, it can change a lot of things.
“But until something happens, it’s a bit difficult for me. Let’s see.”