After spending almost the entire race behind Pol Espargaro, MotoGP title contender Fabio Quartararo finally overtook the KTM rider for what had become third place, on the penultimate lap.

But his podium joy was short-lived when, to his surprise, a Long Lap penalty flashed up on his dashboard.

The penalty was for exceeding track limits, meaning Quartararo had run over the kerbs and onto the green paint more than 5 times during the race.

Since it can be hard for a rider to tell if track limits have been exceeded, a warning is sent, via a dashboard message, after 3 infractions.

But the frustrated Petronas Yamaha star insisted he did not receive such a warning, after which he would have been 'extra careful'.

"Unfortunately, I got the Long Lap penalty, but Race Direction didn't send me any message of track warning. So I was a bit surprised," Quartararo said.

"Normally when you exceed track limits 3 times you have a warning. And when you have a track limits warning you take much more care. I didn't see any warning.

"This is something they must work on because when you watch a race you see that they send a message to the TV. But you [the rider] are not looking at the TV!

"So for me this is a mistake from them, but also I went 5 times onto the green, so it's my mistake too.

"But you must have a track limits warning because the last two track limits my front wheel was 1mm on the green, so you don't even know if you are on the green or not.

"I was just [thinking] if I did too many track limits, I'd receive a message and then I would have taken much more care in the last laps.

"I didn't receive anything. We try every system, radio and everything, but at the end it's not so great [communication] from their side."

Perhaps Quartararo just missed the warning message sent to his dash?

"I'm watching the dashboard three times per lap, so this is something that for sure I would see, also because you have an orange light on the dashboard. Normally when someone sends you a message, you see it directly. This is something Race Direction would send. But it's like this and I can't say anything."

Because Quartararo accepts that he exceeded track limits, he said there is no point trying to appeal the lack of a warning message. However, he might ask his team to display it on his pit board in future.

"I didn't have the message from Race Direction, but it's not something to appeal because like I said I exceeded track limits 5 times. But maybe next time I will ask the team to put something on the pit board to be sure," he said.

"I'm so frustrated because when you have a track warning you take much more care and I didn't have anything so I was riding like normal. We are all on the limit and if you go out a little bit, we can all do mistakes."

By the time he received the penalty message, on the final lap, Quartararo said it was too late to take the Long Lap loop and so was given a three-second post-race penalty instead, dropping him behind Espargaro to fourth.

But even if he had seen the penalty earlier, Quartararo felt there was little difference: "If you get a Long Lap at the end of a race you can instead get the time penalty. It's basically the same."

As well as missing out on his first podium since a double victory in the Jerez season openers, the three points lost also denied Quartararo the chance to regain the title lead.

Instead, he is now one point behind Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso and tied with Sunday's race winner Maverick Vinales heading into the second half of the season, which starts at Catalunya next weekend.

"For me it was a good race. The goal was to finish on the podium and for me it's like a third place," he said. "Okay we don't have the 16 points but I'm feeling happy because I fought until the end to make the podium. Just really disappointed not to be up there.

"I was feeling good on the bike, but not great. It was really difficult for me to overtake.

"Pol was struggling a lot with the rear tyre. I saw him sliding a lot. But he had much more power than us so he was taking a little bit of advantage and he braked so late. That's why he kept us there.

"Joan [Mir, 2nd] was the same, in Turn 1 he got good acceleration with the Suzuki engine and got close to [Pol] and could overtake him. We never got the chance to be that close. I overtook Pol in corner 3 which was one of the strangest overtakes I've made because it's not a corner to overtake. But it's the way that we need to overtake. Not so easy."

Quartararo believes the general difficulty in overtaking with the Yamaha is also why all of the M1 victories this season have been by riders that were up front from the early laps.

"I won my two races like this, like Franco, like Maverick. So as soon as you are behind someone that has a little – well, much more engine than you - you can't really make better.

"I'm happy for Maverick because he deserves it and let's see for Barcelona. It's a track that I love, but it has a straight of 1km. So I don't know what to think.

"Here there are three straights where we reach in 5th or 6th gear. At the end, Barcelona has only one big, big straight. It's more about corner speed and turning, so fingers crossed and in any case I will give my best until Portimao."

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli, winner the previous weekend, finished in ninth place after being clipped by Aleix Espargaro's fallen Aprilia on lap 1.

 

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