Yamaha Managing Director Lin Jarvis and Team Manager Massimo Meregalli give their opinions on why Fabio Quartararo has been an immediate hit with the factory team.
As spectacular as he has been on track, a great deal of Fabio Quartararo’s success in 2021 is owed to how he has worked on himself off it. The Frenchman has been a man transformed this term, showcasing an unerring consistency and newfound aggression in a series of spectacular displays which won him the MotoGP title with two races to spare.
The same can be said for how he has handled himself in the garage. Some may feel a 21-year old – as Quartararo was when he first wore factory blue in March’s Qatar test – may be overawed by stepping into the surroundings Valentino Rossi had called home for a total of 15 seasons. But France’s first premier class champion took next to no time to establish himself, not only as a race winning force, but as the factory’s leading light.
The right attitude
One of the secrets to this remarkably quick period of adaptation is, in Team Manager Massimo Meregalli’s eyes, Quartararo’s attitude. “He has always been humble, happy and polite,” said the Italian. To a man, the MotoGP grid sang his praises after the championship success at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. And that is very much the same in his garage. According to his team, the Frenchman has got those around him pulling in the same direction in a way that is reminiscent of factory predecessor Rossi.
Part of that success has been the personnel he installed. When negotiating the deal that would take him to the factory team in the winter of 2019-20, Quartararo requested that crew chief Diego Gubellini and data technician Pablo Guilliem make the transition with him from satellite squad to factory surroundings. Even a figure with the experience of Yamaha Managing Director Lin Jarvis was impressed with their skills. “It’s not just that they’re friends – they are really good,” he said.
Add to that mix best friend Tom Maubant and personal manager Eric Mahe, this small group of confidants was there to offer support and advice in those chastening moments last year when his championship challenge crumbled in the final five races. “I’m a person that usually doesn’t like to have many people (around), even my family,” Quartararo said after his recent success. Based on this year’s evidence, he has got the mix of personnel around him absolutely right.
Then there’s his calmness. Quartararo grew a reputation for petulance in 2020, his frequent headshakes and tantrums – think his reaction to losing a podium at Misano 2 – becoming more frequent as season edged towards its climax. Yet “this year I never really got angry,” he said in his champion’s press conference. “I remember really well when Maverick (Viñales – early season team-mate) in Assen in FP2 was half a second faster than us. I stayed so calm. In the end we won the race. When you see that being calm brings you that kind of result, you want to keep like that.”
So how did he do it? How could a rider so young be so fast, so consistent and so calm when last season he was anything but? To find out more, Motomatters spoke to Jarvis and Meregalli in the wake of Yamaha’s first title triumph since 2015 to understand how Quartararo became the factory’s seventh ever premier class champ and the sixth youngest of all-time.
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