Morbidelli will contest his sophomore premier-class season with the newly-formed Petronas SRT Yamaha team, and will ride an ‘A-class’ M1 similar in spec to factory pair Rossi and Maverick Vinales.

The 24-year-old Italian, who rode a Marc VDS Honda in his first year in MotoGP, made an immediate impact in post-season testing, ending up sixth-fastest on the final day at Jerez.

“He was impressive on his Yamaha debut, because he was immediately very strong,” said Rossi of Morbidelli. “So next year he will be a problem.

“Franco likes the Yamaha a lot, because it’s a very generous bike that gives you good feedback. It’s a bike that is the friend of the rider, but we lack some grip and he also has the same thing.”

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Morbidelli insists that he is still figuring the best way to extract speed from his new machine, which requires a very different way of riding to his old Marc VDS Honda.

“This bike is really smooth and to be fast I think you have to be smoother and try to look for flow,” said Morbidelli at Jerez. “This is what I’m trying to do at the moment.

“Certainly the Yamaha helps you to maintain intensity and to keep up your rhythm. It is less physical than the Honda, so it allows the rider to have a little more margin from that point of view and focus on other aspects.

“Every time I go on track with this bike, I learn, and I understand more. After all, it’s just my fourth day on this bike.

“I need some more time to understand it and squeeze the package properly when it’s the moment for a time attack, to understand how to exploit it for pace. I need some more time.”

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