Andrea Dovizioso finished his first two days of 2022 MotoGP testing on the newly-branded WithU Yamaha M1 frustrated.
Unable to come close to the pace of reigning world champion and factory rider Fabio Quartararo on a similar machine, Dovizioso admitted that right now he can’t see anyone other than Quartararo getting performance out of the Yamaha.
This year Dovizioso lines up on a brand new 2022-spec M1 for the RNF team rather than the 2019 machine he inherited from Franco Morbidelli for the latter part of the 2021 season after joining what was then the Petronas squad for the final five rounds.
But Dovizioso was flummoxed by how to take the best performance from the bike with his riding style.
While Quartararo ended the test seventh overall, Yamaha’s other bikes were all outside the top 20, with test rider Cal Crutchlow the best of the rest in 21st. And Quartararo wasn’t happy either.
“I think the bike, the base, is so good,” Dovizioso explained.
“But there are some areas where it is a bit strange. Until those areas are better, you have to ride like Fabio. There isn’t any other option, in my opinion, from what I saw from the data, to be competitive.
“He is able to brake really good, but he is still turning the bike good and exiting the corner with a lot of speed without really opening the throttle.
“He doesn’t use the grip on the rear to be fast, and it is difficult to be fast like that, believe me.
“The middle of the corner, compared to my style, Franco rides in a different way again, and compared to me, Fabio is faster in the middle of the corner.
“That is where the bike is so good, and you have to use that area to be competitive. That is one thing, but the exit is more difficult to do.
“Fabio showed last year and in this test that there is a possibility to go really fast. This is the reality.
“But every bike has a different characteristic, and the way you have to ride this bike is very unusual.
“There are some weak points where if you ride in a normal way it doesn’t work and everything becomes difficult.
“You have to be extreme in some areas to use the other good things of the bike.”
What makes the situation even more complicated for veteran Dovizioso is that he’s well aware where the main element of the problem lies and it’s not something that’s going to be easily fixed.
It’s an issue not with anything on the bike in particular but with the fundamental DNA of the machine.
Dovizioso sounded painfully aware that there could be a long season ahead of him if he’s not quite able to adapt to the machine after his eight seasons on Ducatis.
“I still don’t have the bike and the feeling under control,” he said, “and I’m not using the potential, as you can see from the lap time.
“I’m not too happy about that, and I’m trying to study and to learn, but in the end the way you have to ride the Yamaha now is so narrow.
“You have to do specific things and if you don’t do that you can’t be fast.
“There are some really positive things, and the chassis is so good, but there are some areas where it isn’t that good. And if you don’t do specific things, you’re not able to be fast.
“It’s difficult, because to ride in a completely different way is difficult, and in this moment only Fabio is able to do that.
“That creates a problem, with speed but also with the way you manage the tyres. I’m not that happy.
“But we did the first two days and I’m happy to go to a different track, because it’s what I need. I don’t know if that track will be good to learn on and improve the situation, with the heat and everything, but for sure I’m still not adapting good enough and I’m not happy.
“This is one thing, but the other is that already the characteristic of last year is the same as this year. It’s not just about how much you have improved over the two years, but it’s about the characteristics of the bike as well.
“There are small things [where the bike is better], but the DNA of the bike is like last year and that hasn’t changed.”
Thankfully for the 35-year-old, he’s got an upcoming chance to work on the issue.
With MotoGP taking a breather for only four days in Indonesia before the chance to test at the brand new Mandalika Bay venue for another three days before the first race of the year, Dovizioso says both the track time and the time off in between will be valuable – even though he doesn’t think his problems can be fixed in that time.
“These four days, before the test, are perfect to work with engineers,” he explained.
“They can analyse a lot of things, everyone did a lot of laps in two days, and that will be very important for me to have a clear idea.
“It’s what I need in this moment, to realise all the details. It is very particular, how you have to ride the bike.
“The strange things are strange. It’s not strange for me though because I have realised the characteristic of the bike. You can’t use just your best way to be fast, that doesn’t work. That’s why it takes more time and is a bit more difficult for me at the minute.
“It’s always a mix of everything, but I don’t think it will just be the work in the box. That’s my feeling.”