until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


What's giving Quartararo hope as the bike he rejected dominates

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP's 2021 world champion Fabio Quartararo qualified 16th, finished 15th in the sprint and 12th in the grand prix at the first round after he committed his future to Yamaha until at least the end of 2026.

That was a long way behind the bike he'd turned down. Aprilia - in Quartararo's old Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales's hands - dominated the sprint from pole and came back from 11th at the first corner to win the grand prix too.

So it's just as well Quartararo is adamant his focus is on helping improve his factory Yamaha M1 rather than race results for now, as the team returns to Europe from this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix and enters a key calendar phase of testing and development.

Aprilia is thought to have been unable to come anywhere near the financial terms of Yamaha's offer to Quartararo.

But it wasn't just that. Quartararo was also encouraged by the investment Yamaha has planned for its programme beyond his own salary - although the Grand Prix of the Americas laid bare again just how much work it has to do.

Maverick Vinales, Aprilia, MotoGP

Despite this backdrop, however, Quartararo was actually reasonably upbeat as he explained that Yamaha's focus for the coming weeks isn’t on where the M1s finish but rather on the data gathered.

“The direction, we know what we need,” he explained post-race at Austin. “It’s been three races and in three races we’ve been missing exactly the same things. Now, this weekend was great, because we tried many things and we turned around a little bit all the settings of the bike.

“Now we need new items to really improve, and they’re going, they’re on the way. Right now the priority is to improve our bike and not really focus on the results.”

And there’s a strong possibility that the improvements he's searching for might be found in the coming weeks, as Yamaha utilises its new-for-2024 'Rank D' concession status to not just make the most of next week’s post-race test at Jerez but also to embark upon an ambitious series of private tests both for test rider Cal Crutchlow and also for Quartararo and team-mate Alex Rins.

Crutchlow has been out at Jerez ahead of the race, there's the additional post-race full-field running there, and then another two day private test at Mugello (where the Italian GP happens at the start of June) is booked in for after the French GP in mid-May.

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha, MotoGP

That crowded testing schedule comes in part after losing a planned day following the Portuguese Grand Prix earlier this month, where we got a brief glimpse of some of the new components - only for both Quartararo and Rins to be limited to just a handful of laps by weather.

“In Portimao, I made more laps with the rental car than with my bike,” joked Quartararo of the team’s effort to dry out the Portuguese track. “All the team, we were running with the rental cars, but unfortunately we could not test anything.

“But the plan was really, really busy, so now in Jerez it’ll be even more busy. We’re accumulating many days of testing and a lot of things to test, and there are a lot of things coming.

"I think step by step we will improve.”

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha, MotoGP

Rather than Yamaha trying everything available, Quartararo said it is using Crutchlow to filter out what will come the way of the race team to maximise its days on track.

“The amount [of new parts] is not the most important,” Quartararo said. “Better the quality than the quantity, and I think that the quality of the aero that is coming for Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, Barcelona, they’re really optimistic about.

"From 2019 until this year, we were running the same aero basically.

“This is the first year that we’re racing with a different style of aero, and we are learning.

"From January, we are making some big steps, but from January until April is just three months and you cannot completely change your bike.

"But we are quite optimistic.”

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