Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Are Yamaha Better Off Putting All Their Eggs In Fabio Quartararo's Basket?

Is the 2022 Yamaha M1 a good MotoGP bike? It is a simple question with a simple answer: it depends. If Fabio Quartararo is riding it, it is good enough to have won two races, get on the podium in three others, and lead the 2022 MotoGP championship by 22 points.

But if anyone other than Fabio Quartararo is riding it, it is not quite so good. The best result by the trio of Franco Morbidelli, Andrea Dovizioso, and Darryn Binder is a seventh place, by Morbidelli at Mandalika. That seventh place is one of only two top tens for the other Yamahas, Darryn Binder being the other at the same race.

Together, Morbidelli, Dovizioso, and Binder have scored a grand total of 40 points. Fabio Quartararo has 147, over three times as many. And he has never finished behind any of the other Yamahas throughout the season. In fact, the closest any other Yamaha rider has gotten to Quartararo is Franco Morbidelli's eleventh place, two places behind his teammate, at the season opener at Qatar. Since then, Quartararo and the other Yamaha riders have been operating on different planets.

Facing the future

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Lin Jarvis Interview, Part 2: "Our Main Challenge Was To Convince Fabio Of Our Program And Commitment"

At the Barcelona round of MotoGP, I sat down with Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis, ostensibly to talk about the decision by RNF to leave Yamaha and switch to Aprilia for the 2023 season. If you want to read what Jarvis had to say about that, you can read the first part of the interview published yesterday.

After discussing RNF, we moved on to discuss the wider situation with the rider market. Jarvis offered insights into how Yamaha is working with Franco Morbidelli, how surprised he has been by the transformation of Aleix Espargaro into a championship contender, and how Yamaha persuaded Fabio Quartararo to sign on for two more years.

Q: Suzuki’s withdrawal has thrown the rider market to chaos. All of a sudden, Alex Rins, Joan Mir, both top riders, are being discussed as options everywhere. You’ve signed both of your riders for next year, but Franco Morbidelli is not really showing what he showed in previous years. Is there a chance you might let him go? Have you had conversations with Frankie about next year?

Lin Jarvis: No, we have a commitment with Frankie. It’s something we must work on together to get him to rediscover the confidence again with the bike and to be able to perform. So, that’s our mission. In that sense, it’s a bit strange that Frankie has… Last year was not strange because he missed half the season, then he came back. The leg was completely not good. So, it was a very difficult circumstance last year.

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Lin Jarvis Interview, Part 1: "People Have No Idea The Factories Talk To Each Other All The Time"

Timing press releases is always something of an art. You want to maximize the publicity value, while paying due care to the feelings and pride of all those involved. So they are usually only released after long discussions and with approval by management.

Which is what made the announcement by RNF that they would be switching from Yamaha to Aprilia quite so painful. Though the news was hardly a shock, the way it was made public was extremely surprising, with a press release rushed out on Friday morning, just before FP1.

The timing was even more awkward because the release went out at the same time that RNF team owner Razlan Razali was in a meeting with Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis, where Razali was about to officially inform Jarvis of RNF's intention to switch to Aprilia from 2023 onward. Normally, the timing of a press release would be one of the subjects on the table at such a meeting.

In Barcelona, I sat down with Lin Jarvis to discuss the announcement, and what it means for Yamaha's future plans for a satellite team. We ended up covering quite a lot of ground beyond my original questions about RNF, so this has been split into two parts. In the first half of the interview, we discussed the situation surrounding Yamaha's current and future plans for a satellite team.

Q: Obviously, the news came at Mugello that RNF were going to Aprilia. I understand that you were in a meeting with RNF at the time. They were telling you about it when it was made public. I think that was Aleix Espargaro’s fault for being eager to tweet the news. Were you expecting this?

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Barcelona MotoGP Test Times: Quartararo Fastest As Riders Work On Aero And Settings

Fabio Quartararo ended the Monday test at Barcelona as fastest, with a time that was nearly three quarters of a second faster than his fastest lap on Sunday. Pecco Bagnaia ended the day in second, just four thousandths off the time of Quartararo, while Johann Zarco was third fastest, and Aleix Espargaro was fourth fastest.

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Barcelona MotoGP Subscriber Notes: How Fabio Quartararo Was Able To Dominate, A Costly Crash, And How To Count Laps

There are some tracks that somehow always seem to manage to produce drama. Sometimes, drama which affects the trajectory of a championship. Barcelona would appear to be one of those tracks.

Take 2006, for example. Loris Capirossi came into the Barcelona leading the MotoGP championship, tied for points with Nicky Hayden. At the start, his Ducati teammate Sete Gibernau took a line crossing from left to right in an attempt to gain places. Gibernau clipped the rear of Capirossi's bike, jamming on his front brake and causing it to cartwheel end over end through the pack. Capirossi was forced into Marco Melandri to his right, the pair of them going down and resulting in a massive pile up and forcing a race restart.

There were a couple of consequences from that crash. Capirossi escaped injury, but was battered and bruised. Unable to take part in the race, the Italian lost 20 points to Nicky Hayden, and limped through the next couple of races, effectively ending his championship challenge. And it was the incident which started the discussion about making brake lever protectors mandatory, though it would take until 2011 to get the rules pushed through in all three grand prix classes.

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