Quartararo: The M1 has to change - rivals rocket ships, not bikes

Fabio Quartararo made clear that radical technical changes are needed for the Yamaha MotoGP project after another frustrating experience in Saturday’s COTA Sprint race.
Fabio Quartararo , Sprint Race , Grand Prix Of The Americas, 15 April
Fabio Quartararo , Sprint Race , Grand Prix Of The Americas, 15 April

After vaulting from seventh to fourth on the opening lap, the Frenchman once again struggled to overtake the riders ahead, who were smothering his corner speed.

Wheelies meant he was also losing out on acceleration and Quartararo was joint last for top speed, leaving the Frenchman to rely on braking. But he eventually pushed the limit too far and crashed from sixth place at the halfway stage of the ten laps.

“Really frustrating, because when I'm alone, I feel much easier and faster,” Quartararo said. “Normally when you follow someone, like you see others do in qualifying, it’s easier, but we are riding in a totally different way so it is not helping us.

“I was behind some riders in the beginning of the race that I could not overtake. I could not even try to fight with them. And after the crash I made my best lap time even though I was not really on the limit and when you’re last it’s not the same motivation.

“Alone, we can be fast, but with others we are struggling so much.

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“Braking is the only point where basically we can gain lap time. I can save 1, 2,3 [moments] but at the end when you play like that with the limit you make a mistake and that's what happened.

“Because in acceleration on the straight, we were losing so much and unfortunately the only place where I could fight was [the brakes].

“Yesterday I followed Pecco. It’s a totally different way to make the lap time - it's like they're using much more power, with less wheelie and same traction and they go away.

"And me, I need to make corner speed because [accelerating] from a lower speed we have more wheelie. So it’s even more frustrating when you are behind than alone and actually in qualifying you need to be super smooth.

“When I try to be behind someone, try to copy what the person in front does, the bike is just having wheelie [out of the slow corners] and they just go away.”

The M1 ‘has to change’

Quartararo’s conclusion is that, despite a big push to improve the M1’s engine power for 2023, fundamental changes are needed to make the bike perform in a similar way to its rivals.

“Of course, it has to change,” he said. “I don't know how, but…. For four years, I don't feel a big improvement on the bike. Now I start to have quite a lot of experience on the bike, but I don't see massive improvement.”

The 2021 world champion is currently pairing the new engine with older chassis and aero parts.

Upgrades are planned for the Jerez test early next month, but: “The thing we have to change is much bigger than having an exhaust or one small thing on the bike. For me it must be a big change and also making a big change can be difficult. But if we can guarantee an improvement, I think we have to do it.

“But right now even the top speed today was not as [good as] the first races, so we have to figure out why and see if we can find a solution.”

Fabio Quartararo Sprint Race , Grand Prix Of The Americas, 15 April
Fabio Quartararo Sprint Race , Grand Prix Of The Americas, 15 April

‘I never rode a V4 but…’

The most obvious technical difference between the Yamaha and its four MotoGP rivals is use of an Inline4 engine configuration, rather than a V4.

“I never rode a V4. I always ride the Yamaha and I don't want to ask for something that I've never tried. But at the end, all the others are using this so...” Quartararo said, before admitting that such a fundamental shift in engine design could mean an initial step backwards.

“But I think if we start with this [V4]  - and I think the plan for next year is not this [V4] one - we will start again from far away.”

‘They don’t look like bikes, they look like a rocket ship’

Nonetheless, Quartararo suggested the engine remains a key factor in his current woes since it also limits the amount of aerodynamic downforce they can use.

“The problem is to use this amount of aero [on the Ducati and Aprilia] you need to have an engine. It [M1 engine] is slightly better [this year], but we cannot use this…. These [other] bikes don’t even look like bikes. They look like a rocket ship. They have wings on the top, bottom, middle, at the back.

“So if you want to use that, you have to have a lot of power and use it in a way where it's bringing you downforce in acceleration, but also helping you to turn and I think we are years back on this area.”

The #20 played down the significance of not having a closer team-mate and the loss of the RNF satelliite team to Aprilia, but did highlight the technical co-operation at Ducati between the factory and Pramac teams.

“Frankie [Morbidelli] I think made a step, especially in Argentina, but basically to have a satellite team like last year was not a big help. Because Darren was coming from Moto3 and Dovi had stopped for one year,” he said.

“When I see Pramac and the factory [Ducati team] they're using different fairings, they work in a really good way, and I think this is what we need.”

Quartararo, who has a best race finish of seventh so far this season, is now twelfth in the world championship, 36 points behind VR46 Ducati’s Marco Bezzecchi.

Morbidelli finished in 14th place, 16.5s from factory Ducati race winner and reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia.

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