Quartararo ‘fast but cannot fight, difficult to know what we can do’

Fabio Quartararo scored just 8 out of 37 points during MotoGP’s season-opener, at the same Portimao track where he won by over five-seconds in 2022.
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP, 25 March
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Portuguese MotoGP, 25 March

Most alarmingly, the Frenchman’s big hope of being able to use this year's additional M1 engine power to put up a fight in races stumbled at the first hurdle.

Qualifying just tenth, Quartararo lost ground early in both the Sprint and Sunday events. An impact from Joan Mir then pushed the Yamaha star back to last on Saturday, where he recovered to tenth, but he had 25 laps to mount a comeback from 15th in the main race.

Despite Marc Marquez, Miguel Oliveira and Jorge Martin being eliminated ahead of him, Quartararo could only reach eighth at the chequered flag, 8.5s behind Ducati's winner and reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia.

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“It was difficult. It comes especially from the qualifying, because two times in a row... well, yesterday we had an issue with the launch control, and today I chose a line that was not correct. So you are super far behind,” Quartararo said.

“The pace was not so bad but the thing is that the way we are riding the bike, to fight with them right now is not possible. So we have to find a solution in the fight.”

Yamaha is now the only MotoGP manufacturer using an inline engine configuration, following Suzuki’s exit.

Quartararo explained that the difference in drive grip from the V4s, versus the flowing corner speed of his M1, meant he wasn’t able to get close enough to attack in the braking zone.

“We have a totally different bike to the others, and when they pick up the bike, the grip is totally different to us,” he said. “We have no solution right now.

"Even if you are close, you cannot prepare an overtake. Because they go, and then you come back; they go again, then you come back… You cannot stay with them to try to overtake. So that for me is the main problem.

“Luckily, the front tyre was good, because I could make my pace thanks to the front tyre, to push myself to the limit. But even on the braking we are not at the top level.”

Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP race, Portuguese MotoGP, 26 March
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP race, Portuguese MotoGP, 26 March

‘It's difficult to know what we can do’

“It's difficult to know what we can do,” Quartararo admitted. “Because I was behind a Honda, I was behind all the manufacturers, and everywhere we had the [same] problem with all the manufacturers.

“We have a great potential. We can be fast, but we cannot fight, we cannot stay with them.

"Then of course, some manufacturers are much more ahead than us... I don't have the words to explain what we can do.”

Quartararo's best hope for this weekend’s Argentine round is that the track characteristics suit the M1 more.

“I mean, yes, it's a more flowing track, but we know that the grip there is super low,” he warned.

In terms of top speed in the main race, Quartararo set an average of 346.1km/h, not far from the best of 348.3km/h by Ducati riders Johann Zarco, Luca Marini and Alex Marquez, plus Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales.

Quartararo also finished the 25-lap distance in a time of 41m 33.944s, comfortably faster than last year’s victorious 41m 39.611s and was also 0.4s under his own lap record.

The problem is that Bagnaia set a winning time on Sunday of 41m 25.401s. However, thr Italian was only 0.183s faster than Quartararo in terms of best race lap, underlining the price Quartararo paid for his overtaking issues.

Fourth place Zarco crossed the finish line just half-a-second ahead of Quartararo, with Alex Marquez (Ducati) plus the KTMs of Brad Binder and Jack Miller sandwiched in-between.

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli finished 14th in both races, which also meant last in the incident-packed Sunday contest.

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