2021 Portimao MotoGP Qualifying Result: Curse Of The Yellow Flag

A warm but cloudy Algarve Circuit was the scene of another ruthless battle for pole position in the premier class. After showing off his pace in FP4, Fabio Quartararo got straight down to business in Q2 and showed off his one lap speed as well, beating the all time lap record on his first flying lap. The Frenchman looked untouchable at the top until Pecco Bagnaia blitzed past on his final flying lap but once the celebratory wheelies were done, his time was scrapped for a yellow flag infringement, which put Quartararo back on pole. Alex Rins made Suzuki proud with his late jump to the middle of the front row, while Johann Zarco started Q2 with a crash at turn 11 but turned it around to add a Ducati to the front row.

Jack Miller came within seven hundredths of a second of the front row but fourth position was impressive enough after his recent trip to the surgeon, a small gap keeping him ahead of a consistent Franco Morbidelli. Marc Marquez spent both qualifying sessions making frenemies of the Suzukis, first chasing Joan Mir to top Q1 and then tailing Rins on his way to the second row of the grid.

Aleix Espargaro opens row three for Aprilia, ahead of Luca Marini, who used pal Bagnaia as a reference to grab a fine eighth position on his first trip to Q2. Unlike Marquez, Joan Mir used up his last fresh soft rear tyre early in Q2 and then dropped down the timesheets to ninth place.

Miguel Oliveira opens fourth row and his fast crash at turn 9 was what prompted the yellow flag that spelled trouble for the man keeping him company on the grid, dropping Bagnaia to 11th position. Maverick Vinales had a pretty disastrous session, one hot lap getting cancelled due to a yellow flag and then seeing his next attempt hindered by marginally exceeding track limits, the Spaniard ending the day in 12th.

Honda colleagues Alex Marquez and Pol Espargaro missed out on Q2 but will open the fifth row of the grid, in the company of Brad Binder. The remaining Honda of Takaaki Nakagami did not take part in qualifying after also sitting out FP4 and part of FP3 due to the heavy impact of his crash on Friday. Meanwhile, Jorge Martin was declared unfit for the race due to head, hand and ankle contusions which are being further investigated in hospital.


Pos. Num. Rider Bike Time Gap 1st Prev.
1 20 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 1'38.862    
2 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 1'38.951 0.089 0.089
3 5 Johann ZARCO Ducati 1'38.991 0.129 0.040
4 43 Jack MILLER Ducati 1'39.061 0.199 0.070
5 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha 1'39.103 0.241 0.042
6 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'39.121 0.259 0.018
7 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 1'39.169 0.307 0.048
8 10 Luca MARINI Ducati 1'39.386 0.524 0.217
9 36 Joan MIR Suzuki 1'39.398 0.536 0.012
10 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM 1'39.445 0.583 0.047
11 63 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati 1'39.482 0.620 0.037
12 12 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 1'39.807 0.945 0.325
    Q1 Results:        
Q2 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'39.253    
Q2 36 Joan MIR Suzuki 1'39.302 0.049 0.049
13 73 Alex MARQUEZ Honda 1'39.530 0.277 0.228
14 44 Pol ESPARGARO Honda 1'39.710 0.457 0.180
15 33 Brad BINDER KTM 1'39.776 0.523 0.066
16 23 Enea BASTIANINI Ducati 1'39.855 0.602 0.079
17 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 1'39.943 0.690 0.088
18 9 Danilo PETRUCCI KTM 1'40.202 0.949 0.259
19 27 Iker LECUONA KTM 1'40.408 1.155 0.206
20 32 Lorenzo SAVADORI Aprilia 1'40.444 1.191 0.036
21 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda      
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I understand the rule, but.....how in the hell is anyone suppose to see that flag at WARP SPEED? If he was cruisin' around at my speed....no problem seeing it, but.....

I know it sucks but what's the difference ? If he saw it he would have to slow down, lap gone. Well pole gone, don't know how much time you have to lose to be seen as slowing down. I guess, as i think you are saying, the main issue is saftey.

We all agree that there was no way Pecco could have seen that yellow flag unless he was not looking where he was going. I remember I got fined in Oklahoma once for violating an unmarked speedlimit in a little town. The cop who stopped me said, "The law is on the books...this is a 45 mph speedlimit and everybody from around these parts knows it. Kids keep stealing the sign, but the law is the law." In Pecco's case, since everyone who knows anything about racing knows he could not possibly have seen the yellow, how can the lap be taken away? Even Quartararo knows who earned the pole and the record. Since he has a 300HP Ducati, he'll probably be 4th out of turn one anyway, but if, instead no human being who ever races a motorcycle would call this call fair.

Howdy Dennis!

Care to have a guess at the 2021 Top 3 riders?

(1 sec covers nearly everyone! Look at Luca!?)


But if he would had seen then he wouldn't been on the pole anyway, unless he ignored the rule about improving the sector time, or is it something I'm missing here?

I too would like Dennis to comment on this. That sector was yellow flagged and the lap would have been canned regardless of whether he saw it or not. That's fair.

Yes, you are right. However, the purpose of the rule is safety and if the rider cannot reasonably see the yellow, then no safety measures are taken by the rider. The warning must be such that the rider is aware of it...whether that is via well positiones flags, lights or by lights on the dash or a radio tone on headsets, the important thing is to warn the rider that he needs to slow down because there may be a rider or riders,bike or bikes and corner workers in the run-off area. Nothing is served by penalizing a rider for not seeing a warning that he cannot be reasonably expected to see. The rider committed no foul. The fact that his speed through the corner potentially places others in danger is true, but he should not be penalized for proceeding at racing speeds when the circuit failed him by not warning him. In other words, the responsability for the warning having a reasonable chance of being seen lies with the organization. If the warning is given in such a way that a rider might be expected to be aware, losing the lap is reasonable. I think all riders agree that the rule is good in principal but that this case was unfair.

Even Quartararo knows who earned the pole and the record. Since he has a 300HP Ducati, he'll probably be 4th out of turn one anyway, but no human being who ever raced a motorcycle would call this call fair.

2021 Championship 1,2,3

D999...MMarquez, Miller, Quartararo

Mr.X...Zarco, Vinales, Marquez

Richtea...Zarco, M.Marquez, Mir

TZnRDracer... Quartararo, Zarco, Vinales

Buccatini...Zarco, Bagnaia, Morbidelli

Pool Pirate...Zarco, Morbidelli, Martin

Cloverleaf...Miller, Bagnaia, Quartararo

St Stephen... Quartararo, Rins, Vinales

Apical...M.Marquez, Rins, Zarco

Stumo...M.Marquez, Rins, Zarco

Daddyrat...Zarco, M.Marquez, Rins

Peterday... Morbidelli, Mir, M.Marquez

Iannis_Z...Mir, Morbidelli, Quartararo

SP_won...Zarco, M.Marquez, Miller

Rholcomb...Vinales, Zarco, Quartararo

Ivanhoe...Rins, M.Marquez, Morbidelli

Brian...M.Marquez, Rins, Zarco

WaveyD1974...M.Marquez, Bagnaia, Martin

Motoshrink... M.Marquez, Quartararo, Mir

Lilyvani... M.Marquez, Quartararo, Miller.

(Care to toss your picks in as well? Having seen Q at Portimao noneless? Last chance is lights out time tomorrow. Bet is just a post praising the winner's riders at season's end. Did the Podcast folks do these Pre-season? I forget). 



Howdy Wave! I don't think Mir is out of step. After being "last lap battle" raced in Q by Marc, he gets asked about it. And just says:

"We normally don’t like it if someone is following us in that way. But it’s like this. We know Marc always likes to play these types of games. The problem is if we stop, then he’ll stop and it can make a dangerous situation. It’s better to push in front and then that’s it. I did my thing and he has not made me nervous at all. I have done my time as well, given the maximum and it is what it is. But he annoyed me on the first lap because he started slow, I ran into him halfway down the track and I have already lost my lap. Then I started to push and he took advantage of my tow. In Moto3 they penalise you for this and surely in Moto2 as well, but in MotoGP not yet."

When I saw it, my eyes got big. It was a bit much on Marc's part. And, basically fair play. Let's go easy on Mir on this one. The Miller thing, we all saw it a bunch. I thought Miller refused to yield to Mir getting JUST A TAD ahead of him. And, again, fair play in a race. Not reading Mir as entitled, he is being fairly reasonable. I always remember who is bringing the matter up - often the rider is getting asked about it by journos, even multiple times in multiple ways by multiple people. 

Howdy Shrink ! From what I've seen this morning a certain spin may have been put on the words of Mir by a certain publication. They focused on the penalty word. Having watched the interviews i did not see any issue from Mir just some banter.  

With the flags now being LED panels and not a human waving a flag, couldn't they be positioned in better places where previously it would have been impossible due to the safety of a marshal?

They just seem to have been placed at a marshal post and not where the technology allows them.

You don't want to be putting posts into the ground where they may become a hazard themselves; think back to those horrible catch fence days. Also, in the clip there was obviously a flag waving at that spot; I believe they're using both signals at this time. I don't know, as a former racer (although hardly going as fast as these guys are), I always made it a point to check out the marshalling stations when I went out and tried to keep a bit of an eye on them while riding. Difficult situation, for sure. I'm actually surprised that station was on the outside of a corner; normally, in my experience, they're on the inside, which is safer for the marshalls and more in the line of sight of the riders (although, of course, not as easy for the marshalls to respond to a crash, which is usually on the outside. That might be a thought for the safety commission to think about; perhaps signalling on the inside and rescue on the outside? All requires more people, of course, which is another issue entirely. Here in Canada we usually have the signalling on the inside, with (assuming sufficient personnel) a "safety" well back on the outside to respond as required.

Agreed down S of you. I DID miss one once when passing, just had my awareness where it needed to be primarily in the heat of things. 

Feel like tossing a top 3 in Larry? Last chance saloon is approaching. And, sorry for everything down here for a handful of yrs, we got a restart recently that could go a bit better.


By chance did you ever race with Alan Schmidt up there? He came down from B.C. and kicked our butts for over 10yrs. Really nice guy too. 

Please excuse my ignorance, but if I blow by the finish line the moment before my fellow rider crashes out at turn 15, is my lap cancelled automatically? If the rider who crashed is already on a photographer's pit scooter by the time I reach turn 15, does my lap count? Would appreciate some comments from David or our expert commentators.

On the replay (or still) you can see Pecco looking into the turn as he's supposed to, especially at that speed. Impossible to see that flag where it was. But, as has been pointed out, you're screwed either way. You either see it and slow down (and lose your lap) or you don't see it (and lose your lap). If it comes out just behind you do you still lose your lap?

I think the front row has a good chance of filling the podium.

I would add the front row's stable mates to the mix. Bagnaia, Mir and Morbidelli all show great pace on used tires. Mir has shown better pace in practice than his teammate, but their grid positions do not reflect this. Probably two or three Ducatis heading into turn 1 after the lights go out. Quartararo has shown the best pace, but Morbidelli's is sightly better on used tires. Viñales may be in for a tough race starting from the fourth row. If Miller's pace during practice holds true, he will fade on used tires. Plus, I wonder what it will be like to muscle a Ducati around the Portimão roller coaster for race distance. Mr. Smooth may end up being top Ducati for the third time in three races.

Quarti, Rins, Zarco.

I thought the practises and quasi were really interesting. It brought home to me how tight and variable and undue everything is. JM out with injury for the foreseeable future, all the Honda's bar MM crashing, this time LM to of the rookies. And Rins third in qualifying!!

Jack proofed to me he's a little overrated but maybe I'll have to eat my words. I feel if he does not well in the race today the writing is on the wall. Particularly with Zarco and Pecco doing so well!

And good on MM for getting /looking for tows! I think it's smart, legit riding. He won't do it once he's up to speed again. I thought it was really interesting that even Rossi in Q 1 wanted a tow, not that it made much of a difference. 

With the binary application of the YF rules which leaves nothing open to interpretaion I fear that it will not be long before we see someone making a "Schumacher Monaco 2006" to prevent a competitor getting a late fast lap in. Imagine a last round drama with MM already on pole, and FQ going for a late time attack to move up from P12. MM crashes a few corners ahead of FQ. The crashing rider is thereby getting a large advantage over his direct rival which potentially could win him the title. We could also see the last run being completely messed up by riders who are happy with their current grid position. Riders who causes a YF, and thereby affecting competitors' qualifying, should have an automatic drop of 1 starting row.