Quartararo blames ‘low grip’ for being ‘slow’, Morbidelli finds ‘speed’

Fabio Quartararo has blamed ‘low grip’ conditions for his disappointing day-one performance at the Catalan MotoGP, while also claiming “had the race been today, we would have been in damage limitation.”
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha MotoGP Catalunya
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha MotoGP Catalunya

The reigning MotoGP champion, who came into this weekend fresh off signing a new two-year deal with Yamaha, could only manage eighth during Friday practice at a circuit where he took the checkered flag inside the top three in each of the last three seasons (lost last year’s podium due to receiving a five second penalty for riding with his leathers open).

Quartararo was and remains one of the pre-race favourites, but if he’s to really challenge the likes of both Aprilia’s, then finding better performance in low grip conditions could prove crucial. 

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In what were conditions representative of those in Argentina earlier this season, a race Aleix Espargaro won, Quartararo could also be in trouble relative to keeping hold of his championship lead - the Yamaha rider is only eight points clear of Espargaro. 

Whether it was race pace or one lap performance, Quartararo failed to find significant pace as he was also beaten by several Ducati’s. 

"Today was pretty bad," Quartararo said. "These track conditions were not working well for me. When you put on a new tyre, you should be able to improve, but I couldn‘t, and the tyres dropped fast. 

"The feeling wasn‘t good. My riding was really good, but we were still slow. We struggle with low grip conditions, we know this. 

"But I think the track conditions will improve. Had the race been today, we would only have been able to do damage limitation, but we know that the more rubber on the track the better the grip. 

"It‘s not going to rain, so I hope that by Sunday there‘s enough rubber to improve our pace. But I think everyone was struggling today."

Is Franco Morbidelli back?

Franco Morbidelli, Catalunya MotoGP, 3 June
Franco Morbidelli, Catalunya MotoGP, 3 June

Following a lacklustre first eight races, and that’s being kind, Franco Morbidelli looked close to his best on day-one of the Catalan MotoGP. 

After leading most of FP1 until Alex Rins began a mini flurry of time attacks in which he and Maverick Vinales went quicker, Morbidelli continued to show strong pace during the afternoon session. 

In fact, it was the first time Morbidelli has consistently been able to challenge reigning world champion and team-mate Quartararo this season.

Aside from a last-ditch effort to regain a top ten spot which he was successful in doing, Quartararo was slower than Morbidelli for most of the day, something we have to go back to 2020 to say. 

Morbidelli added: "Today was a positive Friday for us. The feeling is much closer to what I want, and the speed is also much closer to what I want. 

"This morning we were very fast. This afternoon we had the chance to try a long run, and in the end we managed to get into the top 10. 

"This is positive. We‘ll keep working and improving, and let‘s see where we can arrive."

‘Nothing is different’ says Andrea Dovizioso as MotoGP struggles continue

While Morbidelli was able to re-find his form, the same couldn’t be said for three-time premier class runner-up Dovizioso, as the Italian finished last of the Yamaha riders. 

Dovizioso has looked lost for pace and ideas on how to extract performance from his M1, which is why a ‘completely strange setup for the Yamaha’ was used on day-one in Catalunya, yet it still brought no breakthrough. 

Andrea Dovizioso, Catalunya MotoGP, 3 June
Andrea Dovizioso, Catalunya MotoGP, 3 June

The Italian said: "We tried a different setup, which is completely strange for the Yamaha. You work a lot to create grip or you change the setup completely against the grip and nothing is different. 

"So, we just confirmed that this area on the bike is pretty tricky. With this big change, in any case, I didn’t feel well enough to be faster, which is pretty disappointing. 

"Let’s try again tomorrow morning, as the grip will be completely different again, so we just hope for the best."

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