Quartararo: ‘Last year I won by six seconds, now we are 17th’

Fabio Quartararo may be doing his best to accept the reality of Yamaha’s current MotoGP situation, but 17th place in Friday practice at Catalunya was still a bitter pill to swallow.
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Catalunya MotoGP, 1 September
Fabio Quartararo, MotoGP, Catalunya MotoGP, 1 September

The Frenchman won last year’s race by 6.4s (after a first-corner accident eliminated some key rivals) but now faces a battle just to reach Saturday's Qualifying 2 and being the fastest rider on a Japanese bike was of little consolation.

Visibly disappointed on the slow-down lap after the chequered flag, Quartararo admitted: “This is the idea I have [to change attitude] because we clearly know that we are not there to fight for the podium.

“But it’s difficult to accept that the last five or six years I've been here, I've always been fighting for victory. Last year I won with six seconds of advantage. And now we are 17th.

Remote video URL

“So of course it's difficult, but we have to start to accept it, try to find whatever is positive to prepare for next year and that's it.”

The 2021 world champion’s key problem was a lack of traction on a circuit already notoriously slippery in the afternoon heat.

“We tried a little bit of everything [with the tyres] but we struggle so much with the rear grip, then I'm over braking a little bit too much and I struggle with the front.

“We wanted to try the hard [tyre] but the problem is just we have no traction, especially the Friday here is always difficult, but we see that for the others it's not difficult.

“That's why we want to understand why we struggle so much when the conditions are more difficult.

“This morning I made a more or less good pace in the first 5 laps [until] the front was destroyed. But as soon as the temperature is a little bit higher or the grip is a little bit less, we are struggling a lot.”

The revised M1 exhaust tried earlier this year at the Jerez test was soon rejected once again.

“There was no positive, only negative. So we decided to take it off,” Quartararo confirmed.

Asked if the more powerful 2023 engine is creating a more aggressive power delivery, contributing to the spin, Quartararo replied:

“No, not really, because even if the power delivery is more aggressive, when I go from 15% until 40%, I do it quite smooth and the bike is still spinning like hell. This is basically the problem, but the power delivery is not an issue.”

“At the end, the feeling [with the new engine], also the power delivery, you adapt to quite quick. Already from the first test in Misano I felt it was a little bit different, but I adapted quite fast and it didn't really change my riding.

“But we make sometimes a small step in front, but another step back with another thing. So at the end we stay more or less in the same places, just a little bit changing the area where we are better.

“So this is something that when we improve something we have to [not lose] in the others.”

Quartararo was followed on the Practice timesheets by team-mate Franco Morbidelli then the Hondas of Marc Marquez, Takaaki Nakagami, Iker Lecuona and Joan Mir.

In other words, a clear split between the 16 European bikes in the top 16, and then the six Japanese machines.

“The limit of this bike is really easy to find and in the past, you used to have the limit and [then] you could go a little bit over it,” Quartararo said.

“With Franco, I think we are basically almost the same lap time, but because we cannot make the difference, we cannot make anything better. But of course we are trying to work super hard, try to change a little bit the mentality of Japanese engineers.

“But of course, I'm not fully confident [for next year]. I try to believe the maximum on next year's bike and it's going to be super important to be patient and work hard until the beginning of next season.”

Read More