Without Valentino Rossi for the first time since 2012, the Factory Yamaha MotoGP team starts a new chapter with Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo in Qatar this weekend.

Although swapping Rossi for Quartararo is the obvious change, much work has gone on behind the scenes to try and make amends for last season, when Yamaha won at 7 of the 14 rounds but still lost the riders', teams' and constructors' titles.

While valve-problems forced all four M1 riders to park at least two of their engines (and a 50-point penalty ultimately cost Yamaha the constructors' crown), 'inconsistent' grip from the Factory-Spec bike was the buzzword of Yamaha's season.

MotoGP 2021 | Marc Marquez Made a Decision about Qatar MotoGP 2021

As a result, the Factory-Spec chassis has been moved closer to the A-Spec version that carried Franco Morbidelli to second in the world championship last season, while new aerodynamics look to have reduced the M1's top speed deficit.

The limited pre-season testing carried out in Qatar was encouraging, Vinales and Quartararo finishing second and third behind Ducati's Jack Miller over a single flying lap, but looking the riders to beat for average pace.

But testing and racing are always two different scenarios, not least due to the presence of Dunlop Moto2 and Moto3 rubber this weekend, plus the Ducati top speed advantage to deal with in the race.

"The first race of the season is always especially thrilling: it's the first time we really get to measure ourselves against our competition," said Monster Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli.

"We've made good steps during the Qatar Test, and we‘re feeling confident.

"A lot of hard work from Yamaha‘s engineers and our test riders went into this.

"Both Maverick and Fabio felt comfortable with the package we've prepared for them during the test, so now it's just a matter of starting the show!"

Both Vinales and Quartararo suffered a torrid end to last season, leaving Vinales with sixth in the world championship, his lowest ranking since joining Yamaha in 2017.

As well as the inconsistent grip, the Spaniard often suffered at the start and early laps of the race, something he has been working hard on over the winter.

"This year‘s winter testing wasn‘t very long, but we still got a lot of work done and the Qatar Test was very positive. This is important. We are about to start the new season and we‘re on a good level," said Vinales, who won on his Yamaha debut at Qatar in 2017.

"We know our strengths. We have a good rhythm and we've also worked hard on the areas that we know we could further improve. Now it's time to start racing!"

Quartararo won three races for Petronas Yamaha last season and led the 2020 world championship for longer than any other rider, only to plummet to eighth in the closing rounds.

The #20 has worked hard to fix last year's issues, but the progress won't be known until Sunday's race.

"Finally, the season is about to start! I did a lot of laps [242] during the preseason test, and even though we were not able to ride on the last day, we still ended the test feeling positive," Quartararo said.

"I‘m very curious to see if the track conditions have changed much since the MotoGP Qatar Test, but most of all I just want to ride my M1 again and start the 2021 season!"

With no Qatar event last season, the young Frenchman's only premier-class race appearance at Losail was his MotoGP debut in 2019. Quartararo claimed an excellent fifth on the grid, but had to start from pit lane after stalling and crossed the finish line in 16th, albeit having set the fastest race lap.