Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi has opened up regarding last season's controversy involving him, Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. In 2015, the Italian was penalised for a collision with the Honda rider at the Malaysian Grand Prix after accusing the Spaniard of aiding his teammate (Lorenzo) win the 2015 World Championship.
The nine-time World Champion was favourite to win the title after leading the table for most of the season, but as the season drew to a close, his teammate Lorenzo began to close in. The controversy, which saw Rossi accuse Marquez of helping his Spanish teammate win the title, began at the Philip Island circuit at the Australian GP, when he blamed the Honda rider of battling with him instead of using his bike's true advantage to battle Lorenzo.
The penultimate race of the season was at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, ahead of which, Rossi made his accusations during a press conference when he blamed Marquez for ruining his chances of winning the title.
The words from Rossi seem to have affected Marquez as a mighty battle ensued during the race the following day at the Sepang circuit with the duo battling for the final podium place with Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo ahead of them, and it all came to a boil on turn 14 in lap seven, when it appeared that in the heat of the battle the Italian had allegedly kicked the Spanish rider off his bike. This saw the Yamaha rider finish third, which further reduced the gap to seven points between him and Lorenzo going into the final race of the season in Valencia.
The Honda team complained to race direction following the incident and while Rossi retained third place, he was given a grid penalty, which saw him start at the back of the gridat the final race of the season with his teammate taking pole position. The championship leader made his way up through the field, as Lorenzo and Marquez battled for the lead, but it was not to be for the Italian as he could only manage fourth spot, while his teammate won the race to win his third MotoGP world championship.
The 37-year-old has opened up ahead of the 2016 season opener in Qatar on 20 March with regards to the reason he had to openly discuss his views regarding Marquez's sportsmanship to help his compatriot win the title. He has also made it clear that he will not look to mend his relationship with the Honda rider in the upcoming campaign.
"I have thought long and hard on what had happened. I also thought that perhaps it would have been better not to do it, but I had to, because I had realised that I was screwed. It would have been already difficult to beat Lorenzo in a normal situation, but when Marquez went against me, I realised I got screwed," Rossi said, as quoted on Autosport.com
"With that press conference, more than trying to intimidate Marquez, I tried to call for the attention of race direction, in order to sort out this thing. We had tried to talk to race direction, but they didn't listen to us, so I tried this other way."
"I think they underestimated the problem, because what happened is something no one had expected: I didn't, and neither did they, so when we told them, they looked at us wondering 'what's behind this?' The issue was underestimated. It could have been avoided by talking together in Malaysia," the nine-time World Champion explained.
"It would have been better for [Marquez], too, had he done his own races. It was completely clear what his intentions were, with the Valencia race [when Marquez finished second to Lorenzo] being the cherry on top."
"Anyway... it is not very important, in the sense that our relationship, after what had happened, can never be restored," the Italian rider said, regarding his relationship with Marquez.
"We'll have to be only rivals, but I would like us to be able to focus on that, more than on nonsense such as 'let's shake hands, let's not'. I prefer doing real things, that's the way. OK with Lorenzo, who is my team-mate, but not with him, really."