The layout of the Buddh track in India features one of the longest straights in the world championship. Few observers therefore would have bet on finding Fabio Quartararo qualified for tomorrow's Q2 at the end of Friday. There were even fewer this morning, when during FP1 Fabio had to push his M1 back to the pits due to a glitch which later turned out to be linked to the gearbox used on the M1. Yet Quartararo achieved a small feat, placing his Yamaha in 8th position at the end of the day and ensuring he went through in the session. It certainly wasn’t a question of the Yamaha's newfound competitiveness, given that we will probably see the true form factor starting tomorrow and according to Fabio there are those who have an objective advantage thanks to all the data collected today.
"It's only Friday, I think we did a great job going into Q2 - commented Fabio - Especially tomorrow I think we'll see a big step forward from Ducati, which puts 8 bikes on the track and has a lot of data. But we have to be smart and do the best qualifying possible, then continue to be smart and manage the choice of front tyre and the pressure to use as best as possible."
It's difficult to get through with an FP1 like this, with so many problems and few laps.
"FP1 was tough, I only completed about nine laps in the morning, so to learn this difficult track in the afternoon was not easy – said Quartararo – With so many corners it's quite difficult to find the braking references, the right lines. Physically the track is not very tough, it‘s just the heat. I had to get straight into the game, and we achieved our goal of getting straight into Q2, so it was a pretty good day. In some parts of the track the layout is really difficult to learn."
What happened to your M1?
"I had the same gearbox problem twice. We have something new, which we've been using for three races, and it's never given us any problems. But today I broke two gearboxes in ten laps, so I think we’ve tested it enough! A shame that I wasn't able to test this morning, at least I was able to go back to the old gearbox."
Was the new gearbox an advantage?
"Honestly it doesn't change anything, it's not an advantage. It weighs a bit less, but overall, it's not an advantage in terms of pure performance, nothing."
You described Buddh as difficult to learn. What are the most critical points?
"Turn 1 is really difficult, because it's not easy to find the right braking point. In turns 5 and 6 the change of direction must be super precise, then in turns 8 and 9 you must find the perfect line because they are very long. Then in turn 12 you almost don't see the curve. For me, finding the perfect braking point is the most difficult thing. Usually to do it, you rely a lot on what you hear on the bike, the sounds of the engine, of the tyres when braking. But as I only did in total a few laps the issue is different. However, I must say that I am satisfied with what I have achieved."