until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


‘Sorry looks’ the hardest part – Morbidelli on his Yamaha exit

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Franco Morbidelli says knowing that Yamaha was actively sounding out other riders for his MotoGP seat “for sure reduced the magic” in their relationship and meant he was hardly crestfallen would he finally learned he would be losing his seat.

The 28-year-old said the collective sympathy heading in his direction has actually been the hardest element to accept.

“It hasn’t been so tough,” he insisted of Wednesday’s announcement that he and Yamaha would be going their separate ways, with Alex Rins signed in his place.

“Maybe tough on the side that I received a lot of sorry looks. Sorry looks. From some people, from many people. And that made me feel sorry.

“But that’s OK. That’s how this world goes.”

Morbidelli was always going to be vulnerable this year as a result of a horrid 2022 season, in which he scored a meagre 17% of the points of his team-mate Fabio Quartararo.

It meant he already began the 2023 season looking likely to lose his ride to Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin.

Then Martin’s apparent preference to stay at Ducati coupled with Morbidelli’s own considerable improvement relative to Quartararo suggested a reprieve would be coming.


But Yamaha instead moved to snap up Rins from LCR Honda.

Considering Morbidelli’s rhetoric from earlier in this season, when the Italian had been keen to point out just how much he’d closed the gap to Quartararo on average, he is likely to feel hard done by – and indeed he told Sky Sports Italy on Thursday that he didn’t feel he deserved to find himself in this situation.

But the decision not to continue together, which he described as primarily Yamaha driven but not necessarily completely “unilateral”, means a fresh start that he hopes can work out for everybody involved.

“Of course, it’s no secret that we are not performing well and the package is not on par to achieve great results at the moment,” he said.

“Plus the fact that the factory was speaking with other riders – that for sure reduced the magic, for sure.

“As I said I think after Mugello, ‘do I want to stay with Yamaha?’. I was questioning myself, for sure.

“But I have to say that the team made it easier for me, not renewing and going with Alex. Who is a great rider.

“Now for sure I’m a little bit in an uncomfortable position because I have no seat for next year at the moment. But that can be an extra motivation for this second half of the season.”

Morbidelli made it clear his priority was to remain on the premier-class grid.


At 28, “relatively young”, he wants to put himself in a position to again fight for race wins and even a title, and to “redeem myself” after his Yamaha disappointment.

He was runner-up to Joan Mir in the 2020 world championship on the old-spec satellite Petronas SRT Yamaha, but his mid-2021 move to the factory Yamaha team – after Maverick Vinales’ abrupt exit, but while Morbidelli was still recovering from an injury – has been a disappointment from the outset.

His likely options to remain on the grid appear to be in one of the Ducati satellite teams, either the VR46 squad owned by mentor Valentino Rossi or Gresini.

But Morbidelli, though appearing reasonably confident about his chances of adding more MotoGP starts, said it was “too early” to go into detail of his 2024 prospects.

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