Fabio Quartararo has distanced himself from reports that suggested he has requested a return to the 2019-specification Yamaha M1 in the wake of indifferent form that has all-but-scuppered his 2020 MotoGP title challenge.
The Frenchman has topped the podium on three occasions in 2020 aboard the satellite Petronas SRT-run, but factory manufactured Yamaha M1 – more than any other rider – but has become mired in wildly inconsistent form at critical moments, not least in Valencia last weekend when he crashed out on the opening lap.
His issues – after such a strong start to the year – have raised questions about Yamaha’s development direction, with Quartararo exhibiting similar peaks and troughs of form that have hampered Maverick Vinales’ challenges in recent years.
He admits it has been a frustrating period, saying the slumps in races are betrayed more by the fact the Yamaha is excellent on fresh tyres and can qualify well even when the bike doesn’t feel all that strong underneath him.
Using the example of Suzuki, which in contrast has a lower qualifying average but shines in race conditions, Quartararo says it has become ‘all or nothing’ in terms of success and failure for Yamaha.
“The grip is something important for us because in qualifying when we put on a new tyre everything comes easier. The best example is Aragon, I was struggling all weekend and we put a new tyre on and we improved nearly two seconds, but our competitors less.
“The grip is really important and we have the condition that we are struggling, but the consistency… when the bike is good we are fighting for victories and podiums, but then it is all or nothing.
“We need to find something in the middle so we can fight in every race, maybe not always for victories, but we need to find a good way to be there in all races. For Suzuki this is the key for them to be on top and we need to take this.”
Referencing reports he wants to return to his 2019-spec Yamaha M1, which itself was a hybrid of the at-the-time current spec bike and the 2018 machine, Quartararo insists he was instead requesting returning to some elements that made that machine so competitive for him
“I didn’t ask for the 2019 bike but I said the bike of last year had some positives that if we can bring to the 2020 bikes would be really good.
“I haven’t talked too much with Maverick about next year but what I hear about his comments is that we have quite similar problems, so it would be great to see what we can do for 2021. We can’t do many things but changing a few things we can improve.”