It would seem strange, were it not for the fact that it's now a story that's already been heard and revised many ( so as not to say too many) times: Vinales is really fast and Rossi is in trouble. In Assen, Quartararo joined Maverick (who went from a surprise to a guarantee in a handful of races), and all Valentino could do was watch them divvy up the first two positions on the grid, while he sat in the pit box, excluded from the Q2.
"We have only one good Yamaha on the team and we swap it. This was Vinales' turn," the Doctor said as he tried to downplay his 14th position, even if a joke is not enough to solve things. Also because things were going well in the morning, despite a small error that had excluded him from the top positions.
"I had gone off the track, touching the green-painted part, and they canceled the time," he said. "But I was quite optimistic about my potential. I thought I could get into the Q2."
Why didn't it happen?
"The temperature rose in the afternoon, and I started having problems. I lost grip, and I was slow. The result is that tomorrow I'll start from the back and with a pace that is anything but fantastic. It'll be a difficult race for me."
The heat, however, did not affect Quartararo's and Vinales' performance...
"That's true. Fabio and Maverick were very fast, while Morbidelli and I suffered. I wasn't able to feel comfortable on the M1, especially in the fastest parts of the track. We only know that we need to improve, but I don't know what happened. It's a really strange situation."
Could the tires have played a part in it?
"I don't think so. The front is the same one I used in Barcelona and the rear is very similar. There's no big difference. Sometimes I manage to ride well, other times I suffer more."
Will seeing Vinales' data help you find an answer?
"I already did. He's a but faster on all parts of the track, but we weren't able to understand why. Those data offered no answers. Honestly, he and Fabio were really scary in qualifying because they rode alone, without a reference."
There's also another aspect: they're really young. This is the first row with the lowest average age in history in the premier class.
"It's nice to see strong riders arrive in MotoGP, but I don't really believe in this generational change. I heard about it for the first time in Le Mans from Vermeulen in 2007, and after 12 years I'm still here!" he said laughing. Seriously though, I would say that the old men still know how to defend themselves, and I'm not talking about me, being that I'm particularly old, but I'm referring to Dovizioso and Lorenzo who are over thirty. That said, I think Quartararo is proving he's ready to win."