Scathing Fabio Quartararo admits Yamaha is worse than ever

Fabio Quartararo claims Yamaha strength on long corners was lost in Qatar season-opener

Fabio Quartararo, Enea Bastianini, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 7 March
Fabio Quartararo, Enea Bastianini, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 7 March

Fabio Quartararo thinks his Yamaha is at its worst-ever compared to rivals.

The 2021 champion was 11th in the 2024 season-opening Qatar MotoGP, with teammate Alex Rins 16th.

It was a dramatic reality check after an optimistic winter where Yamaha added key engineering recruits from Ducati, and were given developmental benefits through the new concessions rule.

But asked if his Yamaha is now the worst he has ever experienced, Quartararo was quoted by Motorsport: "Compared to how the level is right now, I would say yes.

"We improved, so this is something difficult to say.

“But the level of our bike compared to the others, it's true that we are further than ever.

"We are further than last year. We have improved a little bit but they are even better and faster than last year.

"So, the gap between all the European manufacturers and us is even bigger – even to Honda it felt that today we were missing something, and they are also struggling a lot. But I felt we were even worse today."

Quartararo bleakly admitted he feels like he’s racing in a "championship of the others” featuring only the six Yamaha and Honda riders.

Concerningly in Qatar, the Yamaha appeared to have lost speed through long corners - which was a strength, last season.

“As soon as there are long corners with a lot of acceleration, which was our strong point in 2021 where I pulled away from the Ducatis in the triple right, it is now our weak point,” he described.

"So, that's why we are questioning ourselves as to why we are slow in these types of corners."

The bigger picture for Quartararo is that he is among many riders whose contract will expire at the end of this season.

Despite an entire season of woe (2023 was the first season in 20 years without a single Yamaha MotoGP race win) Quartararo retains a strong reputation.

Yamaha are at serious risk of losing their star rider if a more competitive manufacturer can offer him a seat for 2025.

But the concessions were never going to be a quick-fix, so the Japanese manufacturer will hope that their fortunes steadily increase as the 2024 season goes on.

The second round is next weekend in Portimao.

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