To start the new year, Yamaha has chosen Indonesia. Next Tuesday, 17 January, the MotoGP team will officially present the 2023 season in Jakarta. It is no coincidence that the Japanese brand has chosen Southeast Asia, a particularly important market that generates large numbers. The dealers' meeting will take place on that day, and it will be an opportunity to see the new graphics of the M1 that Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli will ride during the season.
To see the 'real' new bikes, however, we will have to wait another month. The presentations are now an event only for communication, while the ‘meat’ will only be revealed in the Sepang tests, scheduled from 10 to 12 February, preceded by a three-day shakedown dedicated to the test riders and the only MotoGP rookie (Augusto Fernandez).
There is considerable expectation to see whether Yamaha has done its homework well over the winter. The last tests in Valencia didn’t go very well: the M1 sported a new aerodynamic configuration that was finally in step with the times, but it was the engine that didn't convince the riders.
By now even the stones know that in Iwata they are desperately searching for horsepower and the signing of Luca Marmorini (an engineer with an illustrious past in Formula 1) was supposed to mark a turning point. In fact, in the few season tests allowed to the riders and in those made by test rider Cal Crutchlow, the route taken appeared to be the right one. In the last test of the year, however, expectations were not met and all you had to do was look at Quartararo's face to see his disappointment.
The three winter months allowed the Japanese and Italian engineers to get back to work to reinvigorate the Japanese in-line 4, now a rare bird in MotoGP, with all its competitors choosing the V4 configuration
Malaysia, with its long straights, will be an important testing ground, also because after the 3 days of testing in Sepang there will only be 2 more left, in March at Portimao, the track where the championship will then begin a month later.
To complicate the work, also the fact that in 2023 there will be only two M1s on the track, so there will be a lot of work to do for the pair of factory riders. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the new colours, then we'll find out how fast those bikes can be. There’s not long to wait now...