The question MotoGP fans and followers were asking themselves over the summer break was how much of his 34-point championship lead Fabio Quartararo would be able to hang on to after Ducati ruled two races in Austria and Suzuki hoovered up the points at Silverstone. The best the Monster Energy Yamaha rider could hope for was to claw back a few points at the British Grand Prix, and then hope to manage the points gap to the end of the season. The question in everyone's mind was how much of Quartararo's lead would remain, and whether his lead would even be in double figures.
It hasn't turned out that way. Quartararo finished third and seventh in the two races at the Red Bull Ring, and managed to extend his lead to 47 points by the time MotoGP left Austria. At Silverstone, the Frenchman dominated, adding another victory and stretching his lead to 65 points. With six races left in the 2021 MotoGP season (probably, Covid-19 permitting), the championship is Quartararo's to lose.
Silverstone threw up a host of surprises, from Pol Espargaro's first pole on a Repsol Honda, to brother Aleix Espargaro bagging Aprilia's first podium in MotoGP. Marc Marquez' boneheaded move on Jorge Martin on the first lap to Iker Lecuona redeeming himself to score an outstanding seventh place in the dry. From riders who had no trouble using the soft front tire, to others who saw their lap times drop off by two seconds or more as the race went on.
Unfortunately for fans (and journalists) relying on the MotoGP.com website and app, the live video feed crashed shortly before the start of the race. Frantic hard work brought it back shortly before the end of the race, and Dorna issued an unusually profuse apology to videopass customers, uploading the entire race in double quick time. As is inevitably the case with computer-based systems, they always break at the least convenient time.
Looking back at Silverstone, in these subscriber notes:
- how Fabio Quartararo has thrived while chaos consumed Viñales' side of the garage
- Quartararo's (probably) insurmountable lead in the championship
- trouble with tires
- just how close is modern MotoGP
- Aleix Espargaro finally gets it done for Aprilia
- Marc Marquez moment of madness with Martin
- why Iker Lecuona deserves another chance
But first, to the winner. Fabio Quartararo ran a remarkable race. There was a sense of frustration in the qualifying press conference on Saturday, at having to start from third on the grid. The soft rear tire was giving him a much worse feeling and very little performance gain, but he had done enough to start from the front row.
Keep calm and Quartararo
The Frenchman lost a few places at the start, but didn't panic. He made his way through the leaders calmly and surgically, and took the lead at the quarter distance mark. Once past, he showed just how much more speed he had than the rest. In the space of three laps, his lead was over 2 seconds. Three laps later, he was over 3 seconds ahead. At that point, the race was effectively over. Quartararo cruised home to a comfortable victory.
Quartararo's win is all the more remarkable because of the chaos he has faced on the other side of the garage in the past few weeks. Longer, perhaps: Maverick Viñales may have won the season opener, but things quickly started going downhill after that.
A change of crew chief at Barcelona, last place at the Sachsenring, then second at Assen, and a decision to leave Yamaha at the end of the year. After the summer, a riotous split from Yamaha when Viñales abused the bike during a miserable Styrian Grand Prix, which saw Viñales suspended for the following race, then sacked a week later.
With the other side of the Monster Energy Yamaha garage in disarray, you would think it would have an effect on Fabio Quartararo's' concentration. How could he stay so calm in the face of so much disruption?
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