Yamaha’s MotoGP silver lining abandons it in Qatar


The Yamaha MotoGP duo of Fabio Quartararo and Alex Rins have admitted that they’re both concerned about whether they’ll be able to hang on to even see the chequered flag in Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix.

It is a worrying turn of events, especially as the sentiment is shared by the two riders – but also because it means Yamaha’s Qatar GP salvage job is being made to look impossible.

Neither Quartararo, nor Rins will have been too surprised to comfortably miss the cut in Q1 , given pre-season testing had made it clear Yamaha has not yet meaningfully addressed its M1 bike’s one-lap weakness – despite an improvement in top speed.

But Saturday’s sprint race saw the pair just limp across the finish line in 12th and 17th – after being completely hamstrung not just by grid position but by unexpected tyre degradation issues.

Quartararo’s final lap was a 1m54.3s, a second off the leaders, as he got overhauled by Marco Bezzecchi. Rins’ was a 1m55.6s.

“In terms of position, I was not expecting better,” Quartararo admitted after the race, “because it’s the pace that we had during the test, the pace that we had during the weekend.

“But the way that we finished was really, really strange. Having that drop in the sprint was really strange, and I don’t know how we’re going to manage in the race.

“It was already really critical to finish in the sprint, and for the race it’s the same tyre [medium rear]. So we will see.”

Coming only days after concluding a test at the Qatari track where race pace seemed fine, it means that Yamaha has been left scratching its heads at what went wrong.

“In the test, we had a little drop, but I was almost one second faster,” Quartararo stressed. “My sprint race simulation was maybe six or seven seconds faster than today.

“We know that in the conditions of the test the grip is much higher [thanks to the rubber on the track] and that’s a benefit for us, but the drop we had today we’ve never really had ever, especially in the sprint.

“It’s only 11 laps. If I was with the soft tyre, then maybe I could have understood it, but it was the race compound and we still had many problems.”

His sentiments were echoed by new team-mate Rins, who similarly expressed concern about whether or not they’ll make it safely to the end of Sunday’s race after suffering from the same issue caused, he believes, not entirely by the change in track conditions (also impacted by rain on Friday) but rather because of the way the Yamaha M1 has to be manhandled at the minute.

Alex Rins, Yamaha, and Joan Mir, Honda, MotoGP

“I was trying to manage the rear tyre,” he explained, “because in the last five laps I was struggling a lot, and I don’t know how it’s going to be tomorrow. For sure, we’ll need to take more care with the rear tyre.

“We did some laps behind Aprilia and Honda, and we were able to see a little bit where they were stronger than us, and their weak points.

“I saw mainly on the fast corners, corners like 5 or 7 or 9, I’m doing more metres than them. But then doing this, it’s so hard to make the change of direction and you ask more from the rear tyre. Let’s see if we can improve this and save some more tyre for tomorrow.

“The tyre degradation was a limit for me in the last four laps. Before these laps, I was riding not so bad and it wasn’t a big problem, but thinking of tomorrow’s race with double the laps, for sure it will be a problem.”



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