Morbidelli made his MotoGP debut in 2018 as the reigning Moto2 world champion, becoming the first rider from the VR46 Academy to make the step to the premier class.
The Italian’s route to MotoGP was unconventional, having stepped to Moto2 from the European Superstock 600 series.
Commenting on the role Rossi played in his Brno podium, Morbidelli said: “I am here mostly because of him, because he believed in me when I was a nobody.
He’s like a big uncle to me, even more, he’s like a big brother.
It was a great moment.”
Rossi – who was fifth in the Brno race – expressed his pride in Morbidelli’s podium, and says he “deserves it” having been so strong from the winter tests to now.
“We are very proud of Franco, he did a great race after a great weekend,” Rossi said when asked by Motorsport.com for his thoughts on Morbidelli’s podium.
He deserves the podium because this year already from the winter tests he was very strong.
I think we do a very good job, because we helped them to find a good team, a good bike, so not just managing and training.
But we were able to put them in good teams with good bikes and I think they can demonstrate their value.
“I think they are very strong and I think they can be protagonists for the future.”