until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


What Quartararo’s no-show says about his MotoGP title hopes

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

“We did not talk to Fabio after the race, because he was probably really disappointed and frustrated, and he went straight to his office to cool down.

“It’s also for us to judge until we speak to him – we have to really talk to him, check the data, and see what happened. It’s very difficult to understand. We need time to understand, but first of all, we need time to talk to him.”

Those were the words uttered by Yamaha team boss Maio Meregalli on Sunday night following the Thai Grand Prix when the former racer was put in front of MotoGP’s TV cameras not only to explain what had gone so wrong in reigning world champion Fabio Quartararo’s race but also to explain the championship leader’s absence after he failed to show up for any media commitments.

He not only failed to appear in front of TV cameras or the print media who, having travelled all the way to Thailand, had waited to hear from him after a 17th-place finish that he knows might have done irreparable damage to his championship bid, but as it turns out Quartararo also completely avoided his own team afterwards.

He instead seemingly made a dash straight for the airport and a flight out of the rural town of Buriram that hosts the race.

The only post-race comment Quartararo gave came the following day on his Instagram page (oddly itself now devoid of a profile picture and much activity, something really unusual for the normally social media-savvy 23-year-old), where he posted a photo of himself with a brief caption apologising for a disappointing race.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Fabio Quartararo (@fabioquartararo20)

“What a nightmare…” he wrote. “Unfortunately we had a terrible race and couldn’t score a point. After a really good weekend in dry condition, it rains just before our race.

“We used to be fast this year but somehow we had difficulties, problems and terrible feeling. I want to thank the Thai fans and see you next year. Time to reset, train and prepare Phillip Island.”

Going into the final three rounds of the season, which kick off again next weekend in Australia after a brief few days of respite, his Thai result combined with Francesco Bagnaia’s podium on Sunday means that the championship battle is essentially reset between the par, with the slim margin of only two points between them.


And given the spectacular way in which Quartararo’s 2020 title campaign against Joan Mir totally collapsed in the final races of the season, that very much means that the Ducati has a distinct advantage unless Quartararo can address the issues he’s been facing of late in time to charge back.

In 2020, he opened that season with a double victory in back-to-back races at Jerez and, going on to lead the championship for the first nine rounds of the shortened and rearranged 14-race calendar, he absolutely looked on track to become the first satellite rider to win a title since Valentino Rossi did the same thing in his own second season back in 2001.

Yet, struggling immensely at Aragon (ironically a track that may have marked the beginning of another rocky time in 2022 too), he didn’t just concede the top spot: he plummeted, eventually ending the season in a very distant eighth place overall.

To his credit, since then both he and his team haven’t been shy about speaking about what went so wrong as the pressure built and the then 21-year-old found himself trying hard to manage it. Very much getting the better of him, it was an unfortunate end – but one that he absolutely looked to have put behind him with a character-building title tilt in 2021 that showed none of his previous weaknesses.

And, with the 2022 championship still very much on the table for him, helped in large part by the return of happy Yamaha hunting ground Phillip Island for the first time in three years, it looks right now like he’s standing at a crossroads where each of the two paths leads to a repeat of the previous two seasons.


Should he get bogged down again in the pressures of fighting against a buoyant Bagnaia on an utterly dominant Ducati, trying to hold him at bay on a Yamaha M1 that everyone and their dog knows isn’t good enough, then Quartararo’s chances of retaining his title are very slim indeed.

However, should he find that the strength that he demonstrated in 2021 is absolutely there (hopefully aided by a week of R&R on a Thai beach), then we’re in for a spectacular final three rounds of the championship – and it’s very hard indeed not to bet against him.

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