Fabio Quartararo fastest, won’t use new fairing again

Fabio Quartararo followed up his Catalunya MotoGP victory by being fastest in Monday’s post-race test.
Fabio Quartararo, Catalunya MotoGP, 4 June
Fabio Quartararo, Catalunya MotoGP, 4 June

The Monster Yamaha completed 67 laps of the Barcelona circuit, the best of which, a 1m 39.477s, put him just 0.004s clear of Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia.

The Frenchman said he had “nothing really important to test” but did re-try a swingarm from the Jerez test, an engine map to try and find “a bit more power”, some tyres for Michelin and a new bike set-up.

But on a day when many of Yamaha’s rivals rolled out new aerodynamics, Quartararo confirmed that he will not use his briefly seen 2022 fairing update again.

“We will never use again,” he said. “From our side of the box, we will not use again the aero package that was taken to Mugello and we will always ride with our standard, with the four wings.”

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The fairing update handed to Quartararo at the Italian GP effectively looked like the previous aero but with the sidepods removed, to try and find more top speed.

But it wasn’t worth the downforce lost in the corners and, after a last-minute switch back to the original, Quartararo took the fight to race winner Bagnaia.

“From outside, it's a really small change,” Quartararo said of the unsuccessful fairing update, “but on the bike it’s quite big. I was feeling strange on the bike and in Mugello on the Sunday we said ‘OK, we go to the standard’.

“It was much better and we saw that basically the goal of the [new] fairing was to be faster on the straight. And we gained 1k, but we gained 1k and then we lost a lot in the turns, so we decided to go back.”

With hindsight, it would have been better to try the new fairing at an official test, as many of Yamaha’s rivals were doing in Barcelona, before committing to it at a grand prix weekend.

But since the new fairing has been used by the Frenchman at a MotoGP event, no matter how briefly, Quartararo cannot have a further fairing update until the start of the 2023 season.

Fabio Quartararo, Catalunya MotoGP race, 5 June
Fabio Quartararo, Catalunya MotoGP race, 5 June

F1 engine designer Luca Marmorini linked with Yamaha

Upon announcing his new two-year contract with Yamaha, on the eve of the Catalunya weekend, Quartararo made clear that a commitment to boost the M1’s engine performance had been key to his signature.

Although Quartararo hinted that the new engineers were ‘already within Yamaha’, rumours have subsequently emerged that former Ferrari and Toyota F1 engine designer Luca Marmorini could be set to play a key role.

Although not commenting directly on Marmorini, Quartararo said: “For me I always push, and more now, to have more power. I'm sure they are working super hard to bring us a new engine for 2023 and have much more power because I always say the same:

“If you make everything perfect, you can win [now on the Yamaha]. It's not a problem of power or whatever. But when you are in a tough situation, power is something that changes your race.

“So this is why I think it's the most important to have power [for 2023] and not really think about other things.”

Having scored 45 out of 50 points at what were expected to be ‘damage limitation’ races, Quartararo will take a 22-point title lead over Aleix Espargaro into next weekend’s German round.

“We entered the Mugello and Barcelona weekend thinking that we needed to do damage limitation, but in the end we did two good races,” said team director Massimo Meregalli. “So, we are looking forward to the next two rounds ahead of the summer break.

Franco Morbidelli, Catalunya MotoGP, 4 June
Franco Morbidelli, Catalunya MotoGP, 4 June

Franco Morbidelli: ‘We don't want a top 10, we want more’

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli, who also received the fairing upgrade at Mugello, was eighth fastest at the test, 0.348s from Quartararo’s flying lap, despite a small crash.

“The pace was better, so I'm pretty happy with the work we've done,” said Morbidelli, who was pushed back to last on the opening lap of Sunday’s race, before recovering to 13th.

“There is still some room for improvement in some areas. But I think we made good progress.

“If I didn't have the incident on the first lap of the race, I think I could have fought for a top-10 position, for sure. But we don't just want a top 10, we want more. So, we are working towards where we want to be.”

Morbidelli is currently just 19th in the world championship, 125 points behind Quartararo, the rider he beat during their last 2020 season together at Petronas Yamaha.

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