Fabio Quartararo is Moto3's hottest property. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 team issued the following press release, containing an interview with the French youngster, ahead of his debut in the Grand Prix paddock this weekend:
Interview with Fabio Quartararo
"The main obstacle will be learning the new tracks and adapting quickly to them”
Fabio Quartaro will make his debut at Qatar aged 15, as the champion of the FIM CEV. The rookie has won two national titles in Spain, and comes into the campaign off the back of an excellent preseason.
You won the FIM CEV in 2013 and 2014, you tested a Grand Prix bike in preseason last year and in 2015 you debut in the World Championship. It has been a very quick process. What do you expect to encounter in the World Championship?
"Above all I hope to have a good pace and have some great battles. It is something that we saw in the 2014 World Championship, at races such as Mugello and Brno, which were very hard fought. That's something I missed last year, so now I can’t wait to fight with the World Championship riders."
Did you feel you had already outgrown the FIM CEV and it was time to make the leap to the World Championship?
"Last year the FIM CEV was very good for me, because I learned even more in preparation for the World Championship. I am starting strong and confident as a result. I felt very good during pre-season testing. Now I just have to be calm in Qatar and, especially, enjoy myself."
Last year you had Jorge Navarro as your main rival in the FIM CEV, but now you have him as a teammate. What does this mean to you?
"For me it's a motivation. As we saw last year with Álex Rins and Álex Márquez, both riders motivated one another to go faster. It is a very good stimulus to enable you to get up to the front.”
What barriers do you think you'll have to beat this year?
"I think the main obstacle will be getting to know the new circuits and adapting quickly to them, to get the results I think I can achieve at tracks I already know."
You had a great preseason. You didn’t have much track time, but at Valencia and Jerez you were the fastest rider. Did you expect a preseason like this?
"I was not expecting so much. Jerez was a circuit that last year I found hard, since I had a very hard crash during practice in the FIM CEV. But when I returned in the IRTA test I felt very good pace and had a strong pace. Above all, we had good setup which allows us to arrive strong at Qatar."
Are you surprised about the results?
"When you think only about getting the quickest lap time it doesn’t happen, but when you focus on setting the bike up you get the fastest laps. When did a 1:45.580 in the second test in Jerez I couldn’t believe it; I was riding hard but wasn’t on the limit, but the key is that I was confident. I had a good pace and that helped me a lot with finding out how to work with the tyres and suspension –above all with used tyres."
You mention that you were not at the limit. Does that mean there is still room to work?
"Yes, there may be a margin for improvement because when you are in qualifying or race, the situation leads you to work in such a way that you can improve by as much as half a second."
With these times you're setting, the way of working and the good tandem with the team, there is a lot of hype around you. In fact some see you as 'the new Marc Marquez'. Is this added pressure for you?
"I’m glad to be compared to the best current rider, but it is too early and I think we have different sporting careers. He is a four-time World Champion -twice in MotoGP- whilst I have been FIM CEV champion twice and have not yet started in the World Championship. I am thrilled, for example, to read articles in which Valentino [Rossi] and Marc [Marquez] talk about me, and that to me is a big motivation."
What qualities make a great rider?
"Above all, the personality of the rider, his image and will to work. I have the example of Valentino Rossi when he was at Ducati, which for him were two very difficult years, but he always had a smile on his face. I’m sure that inside he was not having fun at all, but he kept his smile and that to me makes him a great rider."
You do not know most of the circuits on the calendar -only 5 of the 18. How do you prepare for them?
"I play them on computer games and watch videos, so I see where to brake and where to get onto the rumble strip. When I get to those circuits I will not be taking the perfect line straight away, but it is an additional aid to have confidence when we get there."
Have you dreamed of a Grand Prix?
"It has happened several times. The dream is that I'm in a Grand Prix, but not knowing which one, on a circuit that is not in the World Championship and fighting the other riders. "
So you dream of battles?
If you close your eyes and think of a great race, what would it be?
"When you win a fight it is much nicer than when you get a runaway victory. For example, there was a victory last year in the FIM CEV in Aragon, in which I struggled with Jorge Navarro until the end. That gives you more joy than when you start in front and escape.”
Of all the circuits on the calendar, which do you think is the most difficult?
"The most difficult I think are Brno and Austin, because they are circuits that have a lot of linked left and right-handers, and if you enter the first too fast then it is possible you will run wide for the next one. You have to think about corner exits, more than anything.”
And which is most suited to your riding style?
"I believe that a rider has to adapt to all circuits and all conditions. But a circuit I think I will go well at is Argentina, because it is a track that has fast corners. And the circuits in Spain."
Have you had to change anything to adapt to the bike, or had to change anything on the bike to adapt to you?
"The bike is very similar to what we had last year in the FIM CEV. I have adapted a little more to the circuits and I have gained even more confidence, because I really wanted to start testing with all the World Championship riders. I wanted to demonstrate that I can go fast and I can be up at the front. But this is something that will come gradually; at the moment we have to enjoy ourselves and learn."
What does living in Spain offer you?
"It gives me a lot. For example, the training here is much more complete than in France. I can do supermotard, motocross... There's plenty of things close to the house of Eduardo, my manager, which is where I live. We can do a lot of sport, which in France is not possible."
What are your strong points this year?
"Above all the tranquility that I have. In the FIM CEV last year I had no pressure, but I was a bit nervous before the first race. However, I am now very relaxed about the start of the season; the feelings are very different than last year, especially with the calmness and determination that I have to face the World Championship."
So you start the World Championship without pressure and highly motivated?
"Yes. The test helped me to relax, as you are more relaxed when you're ahead. Therefore I am now very calm."
On April 20th you turn 16, how would you like to celebrate it?
"I hope to celebrate it with a good race in Argentina!"