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“More difficult than expected”: Quartararo without a chance in Barcelona sprint

Fabio Quartararo can’t get past 18th in Barcelona MotoGP sprint – Why he’s fighting with blunt weapons at one of his paradise tracks

A year ago, Fabio Quartararo won the MotoGP race in Barcelona from third on the grid, finishing six seconds ahead of runner-up Jorge Martin. This season, the Yamaha rider is miles away from both that starting position and that race result.

After qualifying only 17th, no miracles were expected in Saturday’s sprint race. But the fact that it was only enough for the Frenchman to finish 18th in the end came as a bit of a surprise, even for himself.

“It was more difficult than expected, especially today. Last year, Friday was not easy either. I think we were in eleventh place then,” he recalled.

“I expected the grip conditions to be better today. But in the morning I immediately realised that this is not the case. We are suffering a lot,” explains Quartararo, who is also self-critical: “When the grip level is low, it is difficult with the riding style I have. I need to be a bit smoother. ”

Quartararo: “The bike does not allow it “

“At the start I tried to brake a bit later, made a mistake and was last. But it wouldn’t have changed much in the result even without the mistake,” the 2021 World Champion doesn’t want to sugarcoat anything. He lost a good 17 seconds to sprint winner Aleix Espargaro over the course of the twelve race laps.

“I overran the bike a bit too much. I tried to brake later, to go into the corners with more speed. But the bike doesn’t allow that. Mistakes come out of that and I don’t ride smooth enough.”

“Today was one of those days where I didn’t feel that the bike and I were a unit. It’s a shame because we tried a lot to find a solution. But it’s been the same bike for more or less three years. We know our base. But we are trying to find something that is not there. ”

The fact that Yamaha is treading water is especially evident when compared to the competition. “In the second free practice I did the same time as last year,” Quartararo recorded on Friday. “The time that the others are doing in these grip conditions is a clear sign that we are not finding a solution.”

“I think there has to be a solution in the short term, or at least for next year, because we don’t always have the best track conditions. Of course, if the grip on the track is super high, it’s a different story.”

In this context, Quartararo refers to Assen: “I qualified fourth there, two tenths behind. That’s fine. But when the grip is very average and it’s very hot, we fall behind. ”

Criticism of Yamaha: Has slept through development

When asked how he would sum up the difference from last year, the Yamaha rider says: “Quite simply, the others have done better than us.”

“We stagnated, we didn’t improve. We didn’t make a difference. In this point the others were better, they were more aggressive. They have made great progress. We improved a few details but lost a lot. ”

Morbidelli also didn't come close to scoring points in the sprint
Morbidelli also didn’t come close to scoring points in the sprint

Similarly, teammate Franco Morbidelli, 15th in Saturday’s sprint, says of the Yamaha M1: “I feel that there is only a very small difference between last year and this year. The lap times are similar.”

“For sure something has changed this year, for example the engine. We had to find a different base to cope with this more powerful engine. And it seems that this base leaves less room for manoeuvre in the set-up. ”

This leads to Yamaha losing out virtually everywhere in Barcelona. “There are a lot of areas to choose from,” Morbidelli said when asked where he was struggling the most. “1.4 seconds is just gone! You can go to any point on the track and you won’t miss. The gap is huge. ”

Japanese situation causes Quartararo concern

Similarly for Honda. The Japanese manufacturer finished right behind Yamaha in the last four places on Friday. On Saturday in the sprint, only Marc Marquez made it into the top 12, with his brand colleagues once again bringing up the rear.

Asked about the Japanese crisis, Quartararo says: “Of course I am worried. We are trying to work very hard and change the mentality of the Japanese engineers a little bit. However, I am not so confident.”

“I try to believe that we can get the maximum out of the bike for next year. It will be very important to stay patient.”

Admittedly, that is difficult in the current situation. Fellow sufferer Marc Marquez explained on Friday that he was trying “not to concentrate on the results or positions at all, but just to be with himself”. He tries to do that, too, says Quartararo. “But at the end of the day it’s not a matter of order,” he said.

“You have people in front of you that you don’t see after two laps,” the Frenchman explained the situation. “I know my potential on this track and in general, but I can’t fight with the others. And that’s more frustrating than the position itself because I can’t enjoy it on the bike.”

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