Quartararo: ‘We have bigger problems than top speed’

Yamaha’s new tyre misery continued to haunt Fabio Quartararo during day one of the final MotoGP pre-season test, in Portimao.
Fabio Quartararo, Portimao MotoGP test, 11 March
Fabio Quartararo, Portimao MotoGP test, 11 March

The scale of the issue meant the 2021 world champion said he barely thought about his top speed on Saturday, the stand-out limitation for the M1 in recent years.

While his speed from the new engine wasn’t quite as close to the Ducatis as at Sepang, the young Frenchman’s overwhelming concern was the lack of progress in solving the fresh tyre woes.

“At the moment we have bigger problems than the top speed,” Quartararo said.

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The Monster Yamaha star finished the day in eighth place, 0.8s behind Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia, the rider he has battled for the MotoGP title over the last two seasons.

“At the last moment I used one soft tyre. It was a little bit better, but I made a ‘39.6 and last year, after all weekend in the rain, my third lap of the race with a medium tyre was a 39.4.

“All the pace we did in last year's race was ‘39s and I was doing it, not easy, because I was pushing to the maximum, but today we did only one ‘39 with the medium tyre and I was behind Marc, fully on the limit.

Fabio Quartararo, Portuguese MotoGP test, 11 March
Fabio Quartararo, Portuguese MotoGP test, 11 March

Admitting he has “no idea” what is causing the new rubber problem, Quartararo explained:

“It’s not just the braking, [it’s] corner speed, stability, exit of the corners. Normally in the past I would use a new tyre and you are faster everywhere. So it's difficult to understand. But also the way the bike is shaking and everything is difficult.

“The problem is not only qualifying it’s also with a new tyre for the [race pace]. I'm worried about the Sprint races because if we check compared to the top guys, when they put a new tyre and we put new tyre, we are half a second slower.

“Then from lap 15 to 25 we are 1-2 tenths slower. But the biggest difference is with new tyres and even more on the time attack.”

With only one more day of testing remaining, Quartararo said:

“Hopefully tomorrow we have the solution. But right now, I don't feel ready for the first race and I don't feel good on the bike and that's why, I think for the first time, I didn't check the top speed today.”

Quartararo also tried a bigger wing on Saturday and “tomorrow we'll try another set [of aero] and that's it. But we didn't try many things today. We just tried to figure out if we can find a good base for our bike.

"We didn't find it yet, but we have to work more on the setting than on new stuff.”

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli, now the only other Yamaha rider on the grid, was 21st fastest (+1.6s).

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