In Ergänzung zum soeben geposteten Video-Interview hier noch einmal in leicht gestraffter Textform:
Year after year Valentino remains at the top of his sport, what do you think his secret is?
There is no secret, it is all about a hard job. He has a great talent, but he also spends a lot of time in preparation and training before the races and, during the weekend in the preparation of the bike and the setup. He has a great motivation in remaining at the top and that’s his power point.
Who do you think Valentino’s biggest threat is this year for the championship, and why?
I would put Stoner and Lorenzo at the same level because at the end of last season they were very strong. These four riders will be the main players for the championship. Other rookies could be a surprise, like Ben and Simoncelli. I think that for the championship we have to consider these three or four riders.
Valentino admits that there were times when he made mistakes last year. How do you plan to make sure that doesn’t happen again this year?
We made few mistakes in wet races, where we are not traditionally very strong. From 2009 we learnt that all competitors are very strong and very motivated and we have to consider them at the top level. Sometimes we will have to accept to finish behind them, if it is not possible to win. This is the biggest lesson we have learnt from last year.
Valentino will have the same team of mechanics once again this year, can you give us an insight into their working relationship and why you think it is so successful?
With some members of this team Valentino has been working for more than 10 years but now this is the 7th year in Yamaha. I think the chemistry that keeps the team strong is the motivation and the competitive spirit that the team has. The same motivation that Valentino has for remaining the number one is transferred to the staff and everybody involved in our group tries to be the best in his job. We always try to be faster even in the most common actions or operations in the weekend. Our continuous spirit and will to improve is our secret.
There will still be a wall in the garage this year. How much information about each rider’s set up is available to their team-mate, and how much is kept confidential?
In 2010 we will have small changes in this sense, compared to 2009 when the challenge was completely open during the weekend and during the practice. In consideration of the fact that the two riders are the main rivals for the championship, we have decided to respect this competition internally and to respect their own ways to race and to approach the competition, so during the weekend the two teams will be much more independent and the challenge will be closer. Not much information can be exchanged between the two teams. At YMC level, back at the office, the engineers can compare the data and the information, but the two teams inside the garage can work more independently from a technical point of view.
Can you tell us any news about the 2010 Yamaha YZR-M1?
The work has been concentrated in two main points, first of all the chassis, to improve even further the characteristics of our machine and especially on the engine, due to the new technical regulation. Net year we will have only 6 engines for the whole season and this means that the engine must have a longer mileage, and this is where our engineers have concentrated most of their energies. The engine has to remain fast with good performance but must have longer mileage and this is not easy. The season will tell us if we have done a good job.
What kind of rate are MotoGP bikes currently developing at? Are the current 800cc bikes at their pinnacle yet or are there still big strides to make?
I think that technology is always in progress and developing. Performances are always improvable. MotoGP is a pretty young sport on the 4-strokes technology, because we started less than 10 years ago. With the cars, for example, they have always used 4-stroke engines and their performances have been increasing year by year. I think that we can still improve in MotoGP. Furthermore, the work of the engineers changes year by year depending on the technical regulation: change of capacity, change of durability, etc. There are many new rules that come year by year and make the engineers’ job very difficult and challenging.
Wilco Zeelenberg will work beside you as Fiat Yamaha Team Manager. You have known Wilco for many years, so what do you think about him and about this choice by Yamaha?
Welcome to Wilco and good luck for his job. I think he is a good choice for Yamaha because he is a former rider and has a great experience as team manager, so he will have all the qualities and abilities to do this job. Of course he has to learn MotoGP, which has probably changed a lot since he was riding, but I think he is a good choice for Yamaha and Lorenzo will be an even stronger rival for Valentino this year.
After six years with Valentino, is he still capable of surprising you?
Valentino always surprised us in the last year, in the good and in the bad. He has surprised us with his victories and some sensational gestures, that are in everybody’s memory. Sometimes he surprises us with mistakes that he could avoid… but the very big surprise is his determination, after nine world titles, to remain the number one in this sport. The next win is like the very first for him. This is the biggest surprise.
Would you change anything about Valentino if you could?
Maybe it is better if we do not touch anything and we leave him as he is… He is a great champion and has won so many titles… It is great to work with him. He is very fun and he has a big respect for the people he works with. Maybe I would like to increase the time we can spend together, during the weekend, because he is always so busy. But, at the end of the day, I would leave him as he is now.
In your opinion, how will Valentino manage the internal competition in Yamaha, with Jorge Lorenzo but also with Ben Spies?
This is not so easy to manage, for Valentino. This internal competition creates even more tensions and more stress. I think he will face this situation with even more work and motivation. He wants to retain his number one status inside and outside Yamaha. He will put more motivation and more efforts in his challenge.
Valentino’s contract with Yamaha will expire at the end of 2010, as well as Jorge Lorenzo’s. Stoner and Pedrosa have their contracts expiring at the end of the season. How do you imagine Valentino’s future, as well as the future of the other riders?
I think the first thing is waiting until Vale’s decision, whether he will continue in 2011 or not. If so, I think Yamaha’s wish is to continue with him. There are three main manufacturers with four strong riders, so one of them will have to have two number one riders. At the moment that manufacturer is Yamaha. Let’s see if we are able to confirm this strong team and continue to win for a long time.
Valentino and Ferrari: they have been talking a lot about this issue. What is your opinion about it as Yamaha Team Manager, but also as an Italian sportsman?
I have a little of a fight inside because I am a Yamaha team manager, but I am also a big Ferrari F1 fan. I would like to have two Valentino Rossis, one in Yamaha and one in Ferrari. Of course, I hope that he continues to race with us and remain in our team because I love to work with him. As for a possible challenge in Ferrari, I think he has a good potential but he would probably need some time to learn and to get experienced. Experience is not something you can buy. I don’t know if the public and the media have the patience to wait for him. As a sportsman and as a Ferrari fan it would be very interesting, but I hope he will race in motorcycles and that he will just test Ferrari from time to time.