Petronas SRT’s Franco Morbidelli says his MotoGP French Grand Prix took a “whirl downwards” after his “strange” qualifying and ended up crashing out on lap 17.
Morbidelli was fighting for pole position in the early stages of Saturday’s Q2, but a “strange” inability to improve his lap time in his second run on fresh tyres dropped him to 11th for Sunday’s wet race.
As a result, he got caught up in Valentino Rossi’s crash on the opening lap and dropped to 17th.
Still running at the fringes of the points in 16th when he started to up his pace, Morbidelli “made a mistake” in the second part of the Dunlop chicane and crashed.
“I was aiming for the win, but then in the second run of the qualifying something strange happened and I had to start from 11th position,” Morbidelli said after the race.
“From then on, it’s a whirl downwards and I got a good start this race, but I got caught in the incident with Vale – of course, because every incident there is I’m in!
“And from then on, I had to start to make another kind of race, try to fight with the KTMs, fight with who was in front of me.
“I was finding a good rhythm and then I was behind Maverick [Vinales] and I was feeling quite comfortable.
“And then when I decided to make a step up in my rhythm I made a mistake, I went a bit hot into Turn 4, 2km/h more, one degree [of lean angle] more and I ended up on the ground with no warning.
“It’s a big shame because I should have adapted to the conditions I was facing and I should have just got points, which was possible.”
Morbidelli is still at a loss as to what caused his qualifying downturn, but concedes the difficulty in being able to overtake on the Yamaha – saying on Saturday the bike’s strong points are “useless” in a pack – means starting from so far down creates “another kind of race” regardless of how strong the rider’s long run rhythm is.
“I think we didn’t miss the right speed this weekend,” he added.
“Something else happened, I don’t know why but just this second time attack something went wrong and I’m sorry about that.
“The only thing we changed was the tyre.
“So, that was the thing that didn’t make us perform like we were expecting.
“Then, especially with our package if you start that far behind, it becomes another kind of race and it’s how things are.”