Franco Morbidelli capped off his excellent conclusion to the 2020 MotoGP World Championship with his third podium in four races, a result that secures him runners-up spot and top Yamaha status in the overall standings.
A breakthrough third season in MotoGP for Morbidelli, though the Italian was effectively downgraded over the winter to a ‘B-spec’ 2019/20 Yamaha M1 after being out-performed in 2019 by Fabio Quartararo, he built momentum as the year progressed to end it with his first wins in MotoGP at Misano, Aragon and Valencia.
Though he missed out on second place in Portimao when he was overtaken by Jack Miller on the final lap, Morbidelli was simply pleased to seal a ‘silver medal’ for the Petronas SRT Yamaha squad.
“I am more happy about second place in the championship than losing second on the last lap. Jack was very good, very strong at the end and was clever, he didn’t give me the chance to retaliate. Huge congratulations to him and to Miguel, he was untouchable today, I tried to see if I could stay close to him but I realised quite soon I wasn’t able to stay with him.
“Then I tried to push at 200% and risk a lot for the podium in the last race, finally we did it, huge congratulations to the team.It is definitely a year I am going to remember and I learned a lot and I learned that putting in work pays off, so I am really happy.”
Referring to himself as the ‘fourth strength’ Yamaha rider, it has been a vindicating season for Morbidelli, rising to the fore just as his factory-backed team-mates – Maverick Vinales, Valentino Rossi and Quartararo – saw their form slide amid issues with set-up and grip.
Looking ahead to 2021, interestingly Morbidelli says he will have high expectations of himself before dampening them down again by saying he is after all ‘just a satellite rider’.
“Huge thanks to Yamaha, who supplied me with a good package even though I can’t hide I was maybe the fourth strength Yamaha this year. But at the beginning we were able to exploit the maximum from what we had and it came out very well.
“[Next year] I will have more knowledge about myself, I will have more self trust and more expectations because we know what we can do and we know what we can do when things are in its place.
“Next year will be an important year for us and an interesting one, but after all we are satellite riders so I will have expectation but not too much because I will be a satellite rider.”
Despite his comments, the top three of Morbidelli, Miguel Oliveira (Tech 3 KTM) and Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) made it the first all-satellite team podium in MotoGP since 2004.