A disappointed Fabio Quartararo is heading towards Argentina after the first round of the season. Bumped by Joan Mir in the sprint race, the Yamaha rider managed to score just eight points in the first GP of the year, ending the weekend in Portugal in tenth place in the championship standings.
“It was certainly a difficult weekend, which mainly depends on Qualifying, because we had problems at the start twice in a row. Yesterday I had a problem with the launch control, while today I chose a line that wasn't the right one and ended up behind. The pace wasn't that bad, but the fact is that we can't ride the bike like we are doing now, fighting against it. We have to find a solution" said a disconsolate El Diablo, who struggled to keep up with his rivals all weekend.
“It's not just the Ducatis that are on another level - commented the Frenchman - We have a completely different bike from the others and when the others lift their bike up, they have a completely different grip from ours. We don't have a solution at the moment, because even if we get close, we can't spend enough time with them to try and prepare to overtake. For me, that's the main problem."
The potential is there, but the M1 doesn't seem to be able to exploit it properly at close quarters. And for this reason, the Yamaha rider doesn't know what to expect from the next race on the calendar.
“Argentina is a smoother track, but we know that there is very little grip there. It's difficult to know what we can do - explained Fabio - Today I had the Honda and all the other manufacturers ahead of me and the problems we had with one bike we also had with all the others. We have great potential, we can be fast, but we can't fight. We can't stay with them. For sure some manufacturers have an advantage over us, but I have no words to express what we can do. Fortunately, the temperature at the front was ok and thanks to the front tyre I was able to do my own pace and push myself to the limit, but we're not at the top even under braking."
The new format of the weekend, which does not seem to have fully convinced the 2021 World Champion, also left a bitter taste in his mouth.
“I already said it last year, we came from zero sprints and we started immediately with fast races. Plus, Qatar is a wider track and starting there it's difficult to make too many mistakes,” said Quartararo, commenting on the fact that as many as four riders ended up in hospital in just one weekend. “With 37 points in one weekend, everyone wants get as many points as possible and to do so you have to be at the limit. The closer you get to the limit, the more you risk making mistakes and hitting someone. Plus, with the two days of testing we've had here, everyone started FP1 on the limit and in doing so my last lap of the race was close to my fastest lap from last year. I think the pace we had this weekend was really fast."
One of the most controversial episodes of the weekend was the incident involving Enea Bastianini, who fractured his scapula in a contact with Luca Marini, and the one involving Marc Marquez, Jorge Martin and Miguel Oliveira.
Why the Mooney team rider did not receive a penalty for the incident remains a mystery for Quartararo, who commented on the Race Direction's decision as follows: "We said that if someone hits another rider and makes him lose time, or injures him, takes a Long Lap. In fact, Mir was sanctioned. I'm sorry that Marini fell, but Enea crashed, broke his scapula, and nothing was done to him. I don't know what they are doing or if they have changed anything. We have been in briefings for an hour or two discussing only one thing and they are not doing it”, thundered the Frenchman.
“Marc's accident is borderline, but it can happen. It's a mistake, but in the end Mir touched me again yesterday and served a Long Lap, but it's not a question of penalties, the point is that you only have 12 laps. Today the story was different, but yesterday, with 12 laps, if you were far away and wanted to score points you had to take risks, to still take half of the points - added Fabio - What can we do about it? For me it would be better to do two Grands Prix rather than a 12-lap race. Being aggressive isn't a problem, but having two starts doubles the risks, because you risk mostly on the first lap. In the end though, we're here to race and I don't want to come across as one of those riders who complains about everything. They tell me to race and I race”.
So in Argentina will the Sprint Race be discussed again in the Safety Commission?
“I don't know, there will certainly be some riders who like the sprint race - replied the Yamaha man - I spoke to five riders, a quarter of the grid, and they all said it was a jungle, but in the end, it's not us who decide, so the Safety Commission just needs to talk a bit on Friday”.