Franco Morbidelli’s rotten form in the opening third of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship showed no signs of slowing down during the French MotoGP as he worked for a 15th place finish.
The Italian is one of the few riders to have a signed and sealed deal for the 2023 MotoGP World Championship, but following Suzuki’s bombshell he will quit MotoGP at the end of the season, paddock speculation looms large if the 2020 finalist could be in danger. independently.
The three-time race winner has cracked the top ten on just one occasion so far this year – a seventh-place finish in Indonesia – but has otherwise only had 19 points in seven races. On the other hand, his teammate Fabio Quartararo leads the standings with 102 points.
While Yamaha’s patchwork form is demonstrated by Andrea Dovizioso joining Morbidelli towards the back of the pack, his comments reflect Quartararo in that the underpowered Yamaha M1 struggles to gain momentum in race conditions.
Even so, he admits his lackluster form means he is unable to ask Yamaha to focus more on his path in the context of Quartararo’s title bid.
“A difficult race, because I’m stuck in the peloton and it’s difficult to fight with the guys [ahead] and I didn’t have the perfect front feel, so I couldn’t really pick up a lot of speed in the middle of the corners, so I couldn’t do anything. The things are there, we just need to figure out how to put them together, the task is difficult but we can do it.
“I am not in a position to ask Yamaha for anything. I can ask for help to set up help, which they do, and when I get to Fabio’s level I can ask for things.
Could Franco Morbidelli lose his Yamaha MotoGP seat?
Seeing Morbidelli’s name towards the bottom half of the timesheet has become an oddly familiar sight, a slow pace that contrasts sharply with 2019 and 2020 on the Petronas SRT Yamaha when that form finally secured him his two-year contract for 2022. and 2023 to replace Maverick Vinales.
This means Morbidelli is out of sync with his MotoGP counterparts in terms of contract cycle, which is good news on paper as he is one of only four riders to have a contract for the next year.
It looks like Yamaha is keen to commit to the Italian and find a solution to his problems, but Morbidelli’s form is a worrying trend that dates back to 2021. Debuting on the factory M1 during the latter part of the season. he year when Vinales was prematurely released from his contract, Morbidelli – who has missed much of the season with a knee injury – already looked in bad shape.
Although this was explained by the arduous recovery from a painful and complicated illness, Morbidelli appeared as a shadow of his former self. Also, Quartararo overpowering his Yamaha machines up front makes his problem worse.
As for 2023, Yamaha might have been happy to give him another season but the rider market has a very different landscape than a few weeks ago.
Depending on when Yamaha solves its first problem by signing Quartararo on the dotted line – a questionable task last month but now seemingly a foregone conclusion – attention may turn to whether it would be worth revising the Morbidelli’s deal if a driver like Alex Rins or even Pol Espargaro, who looks likely to lose his Repsol Honda seat to Joan Mir, is still up for grabs.
As previously reported, there could be an option to transfer to RNF Racing (formerly Petronas SRT Yamaha) as part of a deal that would see the Malaysian team receive more factory support, but a demotion so little long after promotion could be a career killer.
Even a modest improvement in form would do wonders for Morbidelli in the next rounds, but if the dye is indeed sunk, it’s going to take long months – maybe even two years – for the driver and the team.