It didn't quite happen during a stunning rookie season, but Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis believes it's only a matter of time before 'the phenomenon' Fabio Quartararo wins a MotoGP race.

A satellite Yamaha rider has never taken a MotoGP victory, but the young French star got within 1.026s of winning on three occasions this year, including a last lap battle with Marc Marquez in Misano and last corner showdown in Thailand.

Such results not only headlined a brilliant debut season for Quartararo and the new Yamaha-Petronas partnership, but helped 'spur on' the factory Yamaha riders.

After citing the changes made to Yamaha's structure this season, that have seen the factory "correct our errors of the past and set off on a new path", Jarvis said:

"The other story of Yamaha this year is the sensational performance of the new satellite team. I think Petronas Yamaha has been a very welcome addition to the paddock. A well organised, well financed, independent team.

"We are collaborating very, very well with them and I think of course we've seen the phenomenon in particular of Fabio Quartararo, with his [six] pole positions. Yet to win a race, but clearly that's just a matter of time.

"I think that collaboration and performance of those two young riders, Morbidelli and Quartararo, has helped also the factory team. To spur us on in some moments."

Pressed on how significant the Quartararo pressure had been on turning around the early season form of Maverick Vinales, Jarvis added:

"I don’t think it's been the main motivation. I think that's really the changes we made last winter to his crew. Maverick is somebody that needs to feel at home, needs to feel that everybody is working for him, with him, as a group together. I think that's been the main reason why his results have improved.

"That said, I think in the early part of the season when Maverick was struggling with some things, then certainly the fact that Quartararo was there, was ahead of him became a frustration! And a driving point for him.

"Sometimes he'd come in and say 'It's not possible, I need to be the fastest Yamaha!' so I think it spurred him on, but it's not the main driver."

Vinales went on to finish third in world championship, with two victories. Quartararo was fifth overall, Rossi seventh and Franco Morbidelli eleventh.

The contracts of all the Yamaha riders are up for grabs at the end of 2020 when Quartararo is tipped to be chased by numerous factory teams, not least Yamaha.

Some have suggested the Frenchman could replace Vinales, rumoured to be a target for Ducati.

"Maverick started the year not in a good way, he was struggling after the first 5-6 grands prix and it was Valentino outperforming him," began Jarvis, when asked about Vinales' future. "Maverick was a little bit lost, but I think we then saw the benefit of the changes we made to the team for him, his new crew chief Esteban Garcia and Julian Simon as rider coach.

"It's really encouraging to see him improve throughout the year, and improve his starts!

"He's definitely re-found his place in the factory team, shown his potential. He's the only Yamaha rider that has won races this year and I would certainly be happy to have him stay with us in 2021 and beyond."

Vinales is Yamaha's only MotoGP race winner since Rossi at Assen in 2017.

The six closest second-places by satellite Yamaha riders:

+0.171s Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) Thailand 2019

+0.251s Johann Zarco (Tech3 Yamaha) Argentina 2018

+0.337s Johann Zarco (Tech3 Yamaha) Valencia 2017

+0.903s Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) San Marino 2019

+1.026s Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) Valencia 2019

+1.360s Colin Edwards (Tech3 Yamaha) Great Britain 2009

 

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