As the 2021 MotoGP season returns to Europe this weekend for round three at Portimao, it will be a very welcome sight for Franco Morbidelli who endured a difficult Qatar double header. 

The Petronas Yamaha rider remains one of the title favourites, but has accumulated just four points heading into the Portuguese Grand Prix. 

However, the Algarve International Circuit is the scene of his last podium as he claimed third place during last season’s final race. 

Speaking ahead of this weekend, Morbidelli said: "After being on the podium in Portugal last year, I hope that we can regain our good pace and be in contention for a good result again this weekend. 

"Every race is different though so we will have to wait and see how we are once we are out on track. 

"We have the data from last year and we know that we were fast, so at least we will have something to use as a comparison."  

With Morbidelli once again the only Yamaha rider on a year old M1 spec machine, the next few rounds will tell us whether the 2020 package can showcase more consistency than it demonstrated last year. 

Morbidelli suffered mechanical issues during the second Qatar weekend which affected his Friday running, but the 2020 championship runner-up believes the team is making steps in the right direction. 

"We are improving each race and we’ve been trying to understand what happened in the bike set up during our time in Qatar," added Morbidelli. 

"Hopefully we have found some improvements and can continue in a positive direction this weekend."