Fabio Quartararo already realised on Friday that this weekend in Jerez was not going to be easy. Saturday's qualifying confirmed this feeling, relegating him to 16th on the starting grid. A spot never occupied by the Frenchman since he made his MotoGP debut, but also a reflection of Yamaha's difficulties when it comes to getting the maximum potential out of the M1 with new tires in qualifying.
However, Quartararo hoped to be able to at least try to make a comeback and after a convincing warm-up he was sure of having a good pace in view of the race. Away they went and in the third corner he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sandwiched between Oliveira and Bezzecchi, he couldn't avoid contact with both, with the Portuguese having the worst. Red flag and restart, with notification by the Steward Panel of having to serve a long lap penalty. The icing on the cake was that he had to repeat the long lap penalty for having touched the white line at the exit of the long lap section of the track.
In the end Quartararo took his Yamaha into the top ten, with a tenth place which, in view of what happened, almost appears to be a good result. The world championship standings are starting to get a bit desperate, with the Frenchman at -47 from the pacesetter Pecco Bagnaia. Overall, nothing is lost, but to think of getting into the fight for the world championship, a change of pace is undoubtedly needed, something that for now appears to be a pipedream.
"I have a big bruise - Quartararo said - luckily nothing is broken, I don't have to treat it in any way but it hurts. Bezzecchi was in front, I was in the middle, I had no other solution to do that. I could not escape this crash. I just tried to brake and stop, but I hit – I don’t know who was first – but the bike of Miguel took my clutch and I hit the bike of Bezzecchi. I had no other solution but to do that, so the crash was 100% sure.”
Were you surprised by the decision to penalize you?
“I was surprised, and we don’t see any reason. Maio went to race direction to have an explanation, but no clear explanation was said. From our side I think we don’t see anything strange, and I think it’s clearly not a penalty. But it’s in the past, and I made it twice.”
They make you do the Sprint Race in the name of show and then penalize you if you are aggressive.
"In the Sprint Races, when you want to win starting far behind as happened to me in this GP, it's super important to gain positions at the start. Of course, you do your best and sometimes what happened for example yesterday to Morbidelli happens. I didn't want to overtake everyone; I was trying to stay up, but I immediately realised that it would have been impossible".
Did you realize you had missed the long lap penalty?
"I didn't realize I had gone offline. I turned around to see if there were any riders coming from behind, but that's the way it went. It's hard to understand what happened."
How do you judge the work of the Stewards?
“I mean, I would love to say what I think, but we will just have a discussion at Le Mans and see how it is possible to take this kind of decision.”
Yet in the race you were fast.
"This morning I was very fast with the medium tires in the warmup, like it has never happened to me before. I did 1'37'1 with a lot of fuel. The problem remains the flying lap. Today I was stuck ten laps behind Augusto Fernandez and there was no way for me to get close and try and overtake. For me in the race I was about a second slower than I could have been alone. This morning in the cold I did 37'1 and that's fine. I know our pace was higher, but I was never able to lap in the race as I would have liked. As soon as I found myself alone in the race, after overtaking, I didn't have time to get used to it and pick up the pace before I found myself with another rider in front. This is our big problem. I'm fast, I feel it. I ride well, but there are situations I can't control".