For years now, team presentations have only been the time to see the new colours of the bikes, not the new bikes themselves, but in the case of Yamaha, this is not true either, because the graphics are virtually identical to those of last season. To see what the 2021 M1 will really be like, we will have to wait for the tests in Qatar, which could reserve a lot more surprises than today.
The real mystery of 2020 was Yamaha's MotoGP bike: criticized by all the riders, it won half of the races it disputed and the manufacturers' title was lost only because of the penalty inflicted for replacing the valves without asking for permission.
So what M1 will we see in less than a month in Losail? Team manager Massimo Meregalli tried to answer.
“We want an easier bike in all conditions - he explained - At times we suffered from lack of grip and it was difficult to adapt the setup to the various tracks. So we have tried to have a more balanced bike, a kind of union between the 2020 M1 and the one used by Morbidelli ”.
They seem to have been working overtime at Iwata…
"I don't remember the last time Yamaha prepared so much new material," declared Maio.
What have they been working on?
"First of all on improving acceleration, because it can also help us with top speed. For the same reason, for the tests in Qatar we will have new aerodynamics, which will also serve to improve cooling. Then we have worked on the swingarm and chassis to improve driveability and we will also have a new exhaust. We did not touch the engine but everything around it”.
So the chassis was also modified by looking at the past…
"Until 2016 the M1 went well on all circuits - recalled Meregalli - and the M1 that Morbidelli used last year had a similar chassis to that, so the direction for 2021 was to get closer to the chassis Franco used".
That’s the theory so far, because for practice we will have to wait…
“Unfortunately we couldn't organize any tests before the ones in Qatar - he continued - The bikes were in Japan and Crutchlow would have had to remain in quarantine if he wanted to go. It also took the engineers time to send everything to Qatar, so no real shakedown was done even by the Japanese test riders ”.
The problem is that we will only test on one track and that Cal will have to get to grips with the M1.
But Maio is not worried: “when Lorenzo got back on the Yamaha last year at Sepang he told me he had found the same bike he remembered. Crutchlow rode it years ago, but I think that from the second day he will be able to work without any problems. Losail will also be a good test, because last year the riders complained that the M1 was struggling to turn once the brakes were released and the Qatar track is the ideal way to see if we have solved that problem. "
If all goes well, Massimo is sure that the first to benefit will be Vinales.
"Sometimes I see the fire in Maverick's eyes, the problem is that it's easy for him to lose it - he said - I see that he changes his approach to racing and I will give him all my support to give him equilibrium, because when he can't ride as he wants he risks losing confidence. Also, in the past year, he wasn’t very aggressive at times in the early laps and this made him miss the chance to do good results. We know that the M1 gives its best if you ride it with its lines, in the middle of the group it struggles, we will work with Vinales right in the early stages of the race ”.