Yamaha scored the most wins of any manufacturer on the grid in 2020, with Fabio Quartararo and Petronas SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli tallying up six, while factory team rider Maverick Vinales scored the seventh.
But Morbidelli is riding what Yamaha terms the ‘A-spec’ M1, which is effectively the 2019 version, and ended up top Yamaha runner in the standings 13 points behind champion Joan Mir in second.
The top 2020 M1 was that of Vinales in sixth, while Quartararo slumped to eighth after the Portuguese Grand Prix finale having led the championship for much of the season.
Rossi, Quartararo and Vinales were all critical of the 2020-spec M1, in particular its lack of engine power, persisting rear grip problems and a general lack of consistency from race to race.
When asked if he will be involved in development of the M1 in 2021 despite switching to SRT, Rossi admits he’s not sure he was very involved in 2020 and highlighted the main problem with Yamaha’s engineering staff.
“I think that I will be involved like this year,” Rossi said.
“So, doesn’t change a lot. We need to understand if this year I’m very involved or not. I don’t know.
“Sincerely, what I can do is give all my experience and try to say what for me we need.
“But more or less we have similar problems from a lot of time, so I think next year doesn’t change a lot.
“I think anyway the Japanese [engineers] hears what the riders’ comment, but in the end they do what they want.
“They have already in mind what they want to do.”
While both Vinales and Quartararo have repeatedly stated the 2019 Yamaha was a better bike, Rossi has always maintained the difference compared to the 2020-spec wasn’t all that great and feels the biggest factor in Morbidelli’s form has been the 26-year-old’s growth as a rider.
Rossi will have current-spec machinery with factory support at SRT in 2021, while Morbidelli will remain on the ‘A-spec’ model despite finishing 2020 as top Yamaha rider.