Miguel Oliveira stepped up into the top echelon of riders during the shortened 2020 MotoGP World Championship season after he won his first two races at August's Styrian GP in Spielberg and his home Portuguese GP at Portimão in November.
The 26-year-old from Almada has now switched up from the Red Bull KTM Tech3 outfit to join old teammate Brad Binder in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing garage as the 2021 season starts with the Qatar GP around the Losail International Circuit on Sunday.
Here is what the Moto2 and Moto3 World Championship runner-up had to say ahead of the season opener:
What have you learned about the bike in pre-season testing?
The bike hasn't changed much. We have different updates throughout all of the bike that basically will allow us to have a bigger window of working within the setup that we have, so I think that's going to be really positive coming into this season.
What are the challenges of moving to a different bike and team?
The new team is the biggest challenge because we have a bigger group working with me. I have to understand their working style and they have to understand my working style. Just getting to know each other inside the garage and getting along with everyone, so everything runs smooth.
Are the bigger expectations on the team something that you embrace?
I used to say, 'When someone else outside of me expects more from me than myself, then there must be something wrong'. I don't feel the pressure. I know there will be times where the team expects me to win and I need to live up to that expectation, because that's what I want from myself also.
The team has come a long way in a short period, so is the title the next big aim?
Fighting for the title is the next goal. We need to be up there every weekend, we need to qualify good and we need to score good points in every race. The days that we have an opportunity, take that opportunity to the maximum. We have a long championship ahead, so it is important to start building the results up from the beginning and persist throughout the whole championship.
Have you had time to reflect on your two race wins last year and reset your goals?
For sure, I have had more time to digest the success of the last races. We always look for the next goal and I have had the winning feeling enough times to absorb it, and it is always nice to have that. I am really looking forward to getting more of those moments this year.
Do you expect a respectful rivalry with Brad, after joining forces with him again?
We are good friends. There is competition, but also a good amount of respect within the teammate world. Of course, I want to beat him and he wants to beat me but there are also another 21 riders that I want to beat as well. The key here is that we push each other in a friendly, respectful way to be better and give the team very good results.
You were front page news in Portugal after your 2020 wins, so how has your life changed?
I won two races, but my life hasn't changed much because we wear masks and don't socialise as much. I feel the support and the Portuguese crowd coming alive every racing weekend, and that has given me very good reason to continue to work hard and keep them happy as they deserve it.
What races are you most looking forward to this season?
Racing in Portugal and Spielberg, my second home. Last season we didn't have much variety in terms of layouts, so it will be nice to go to a normal working season again just for the travelling and variety of race tracks which give unpredictability that is good for the competitors.