Least competitive Yamaha ever? Quartararo’s grim verdict


Fabio Quartararo says Yamaha was “more far than ever” from the front in the 2024 MotoGP season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, positing that it was in even worse shape than fellow struggler Honda.

The 2024-spec Yamaha M1 has brought more top speed and revamped aero to the table, yet didn’t make a big impression in testing and again flopped in qualifying trim, both Quartararo and new team-mate Alex Rins eliminated by a large margin in Q1.

Both then struggled to keep the tyres alive in the sprint, which meant a more conservative engine mapping for a likewise frustrating Sunday grand prix – even if it did secure five points for Quartararo in 11th.

“It is what it is,” he began his post-race media debrief.

“And this is when you really see the difference on how people work really hard and… we are still very, very far from them.

“Of course it’s really difficult because I know my potential and I know where I can be.”

Ducati, which was 1-3-4-5-6-7 in the final results today, has won five of the last seven MotoGP grands prix held in Qatar – but it was Yamaha that won the other two, and it remains the most successful manufacturer in terms of grand prix wins at the track with 10.

Quartararo, who delivered one of those wins in 2021 (in the one-off Doha Grand Prix, pictured below), improved upon his average race laptime from 2023 on Sunday – but was nearly 18 seconds behind the winner this time instead of nearly eight.

“We are more far than last year. We have improved a little bit – but they [Ducati, KTM and Aprilia] are even better and faster than last year.

“The gap between all the European manufacturers and us is bigger.

“Even to Honda I felt that today we were missing something. They are also struggling a lot, but I felt that we were even worse today.”

Quartararo said it was a pleasant surprise to remain in the mid-1m53s range until the end of the race given his tyre conservation struggles on Saturday.

“But the problem is the potential we have on the first lap is slow. We are not able to go as fast as the front guys.

“Because I made a great start, I was behind… I don’t know who, I think Aleix [Espargaro] and [Pedro] Acosta in the beginning.

“But as soon as there’s long corners with acceleration, that was our strong point in ’21, when I pulled away from the Ducatis in the triple-right [Turns 12-13-14].

“And it’s our weak point now. So… yeah, that’s why we are… questioning ourselves, why we are slow in this kind of corner.”

Quartararo did point out that the gap to the front was just five seconds bigger on Sunday than in the half-distance sprint – reiterating that the damage was being done in the early laps.

“We are really-really far in any case. But why we are not able to go as fast in a short race – this is the question.”

Asked by The Race whether the bike was the worst it’s ever been in terms of competitiveness, he said: “Comparing to how the level is right now, I would say yes. But we improved. So this is something that is difficult to say.

“But the level of our bike comparing to the others, it’s true that we are more far than ever.”



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