KUALA LUMPUR: Rookie of the Year Franco Morbidelli is determined to do his part to make Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team (SRT), Malaysia's first-ever team in MotoGP, a success.
Morbidelli admitted he does feel the pressure of expectations but is prepared to face the challenge with the strong support he has from the team.
SRT believe he can challenge for the Best Independent Team Rider title next season.
The Italian, who has been earmarked as a huge talent for the future, was impressive in the first two rounds of testing at Valencia and Jerez last month where he was placed sixth in both outings.
“I felt very happy when I received the call from my manager and he told me about this possibility (of joining SRT).
"He told me about a new, ambitious project with good opportunities that could be a great challenge for me," he said.
Morbidelli noted: "I feel like I am one of the people that has to make this a great project.
"I don’t feel like I have more or less responsibility than anybody else, we are all equally important. Everyone has to do their job to the best of their ability to make Petronas, Yamaha, the partners and the fans proud of us.
”There is always pressure in this game, so yes I feel it but it’s not a problem, it is how this sport works.
“I felt comfortable from the first day mainly because I have worked with the majority of staff already in other teams, so there were no big surprises for me. Also, the ones I haven’t worked with before I knew, and we have been speaking (with) for a while.
“The team presentation is planned for Malaysia, just before the test at Sepang Circuit (Feb 6-8), so I am really looking forward to seeing what kind of reception we get.
"I am excited to meet the fans in this country because I know that the love they have for MotoGP is huge and I want to experience it first-hand alongside the team, he said.
Morbidelli, who spent his rookie season this year riding a Honda RC213V with Marc VDS, is delighted with his performance on the Yamaha YZR-M1 so far but is not setting any lofty targets for now.
“It is a very easy bike to take to the limit and this has surprised me a lot. When you reach that extreme point it is the moment to work on how you push it further. That is when the real work starts," added Morbidelli.
“We still need more laps to understand perfectly how and what I need to change about my riding style. I think it will be a natural process, which we will take step by step, to see what I need to go faster.”
"I think it is still too early to set our objectives, we have to wait and see how the next tests go in February and March. "We are expecting new material for the next tests so we’ll have to try them out and see how we get on.
"Once pre-season is over, we will have a good idea where we can expect to be in the Grand Prix," he added.
The Sepang test will be followed by the final test of the season in Qatar on Feb 23-25 before the new season kicks off with the Qatar Grand Prix at Losail on March 8-10.