Quartararo: Yamaha’s engine pledge convinced me to stay

MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo was not only speaking to Yamaha about 2023, but a pledge to finally address the M1’s lack of engine power helped convince him to stay.
Fabio Quartararo , Catalunya MotoGP. 2 June
Fabio Quartararo , Catalunya MotoGP. 2 June

The young Frenchman has carried Yamaha’s MotoGP hopes almost single-handedly since former team-mate Maverick Vinales’ final M1 victory in the 2021 Qatar season-opener.

Yet when Quartararo pleaded for more top speed for the 2022 machine, it seems Yamaha still didn’t ‘accept’ it was the most important factor and rolled out a largely unchanged machine.

Quartararo’s subsequent struggles in the opening rounds prompted him to question his Yamaha future.

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But after a breakthrough victory at round five in Portimao, Quartararo has been off the podium just once since and leads the MotoGP standings heading into this weekend’s ninth round in Catalunya.

By contrast, the next best Yamaha of team-mate Franco Morbidelli is just 19th in the world championship, indicating how disastrous a Quartararo departure might have been for the Japanese factory.

“It was not an easy decision. And we took a little bit more time to evaluate all the project,” Quartararo said of his new two-year deal.

“As you can imagine, we were not talking only to Yamaha. At one stage, my head was going to one side, then one week later I wanted to go [another way] and it was a little bit difficult.

“Basically, my first goal is to have the best bike and best project. And they convinced me [to stay] because they will bring new people, engineers, and they know exactly where they need to improve."

Quartararo has been around 10-12km/h slower than the quickest machines this season.

“In the past, maybe they were working on a few areas, but they [Yamaha] didn't really accept that the bike was more slow than the others. And now they know and they will clearly work on this weak point," he added.

“To be fair, I feel super good on the bike. Of course every rider always wants more. But the only thing that we're missing compared to the others, is the speed.

“So that's what made me really take the decision to stay in Yamaha; I know that they're pushing to bring more power and I feel good on the bike.

“I'm super happy because they really understand [now] and they are doing their best to find what we are missing. Many people, engineers, will go into the engine side and work on that part of the bike.

“They are already in Yamaha."

Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP race, Catalunya MotoGP 6 June
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP race, Catalunya MotoGP 6 June

Quartararo:  I always feel good in this track

Turning to Barcelona, Quartararo’s close second place to Francesco Bagnaia at Mugello last Sunday has given him renewed confidence for Barcelona, a circuit he has always been fast at.

“Last year was a strange weekend, but I always feel good in this track,” he said of the 2021 wardrobe malfunction that saw Quartararo finish the race with his leathers open and subsequently penalised.

“When I was 14 in the CEV I remember I was as fast as the [Moto3] World Championship pole position.

I had my first podium here in MotoGP, my first win in Moto2, last year we were really fast. So there is no reason we cannot fight for a great result this year.

“I think my riding style suits this track a lot, especially the last two corners where you need to carry a lot of speed which is a strong point of our bike but also a strong point of my riding style.

“Of course, we also know there is a long straight here, but in Mugello - okay, it was a problem - but we finished second. So hopefully here we can feel much better from tomorrow morning and work better than Mugello and see if we can have a great pace since FP1.”

Quartararo holds an eight-point lead over Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro heading into this weekend.

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