2021 Mugello MotoGP Qualifying Result: Triumph, Tows and Tribulations

The habitual thrill of MotoGP qualifying attracted some unwelcome gloomy visitors over the scenic Italian circuit but the clouds behaved themselves long enough for us to enjoy two standout sessions – for very different reasons. It was hardly a surprise to see Fabio Quartararo at the top of the timesheets as soon as he was unleashed on track and because he had no real challenger, the Frenchman challenged himself to improve the all time lap record once sat on provisional pole. He promptly achieved that with one minute left on the clock and claimed his fourth consecutive pole position of the season. However, a late charge from Pecco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco ensured that the Yamaha man won’t be too comfortable going into turn 1 on Sunday, with the fast-starting Ducatis waiting to pounce from the front row of the grid.

Aleix Espargaro made the best of his escape from Q1 and turned it into a fine second row start, having spent much of Q1 inside the top three positions. He will be in familiar company from Jack Miller and Brad Binder, who pushed teammate Miguel Oliveira to row three. The Portuguese rider opens a strong third row featuring the Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Joan Mir, while Franco Morbidelli rounded out the top ten on home soil.

Meanwhile, Maverick Viñales watched from his garage with a face like thunder as the TV director turned the camera towards public enemy number one: Marc Marquez. Fully aware that he needs a solid reference to tackle Q1, the Honda man had left pitlane superglued to the back of his compatriot. The chosen target was unhappy but after an underwhelming first run, Viñales had little time to shake off the unwanted attention from both Marquez brothers on his second run, as much as he tried to. Marquez played his cards and claimed top spot in the session, while Viñales was set free for one final flying lap that he ultimately messed up. And that, kids, is the tale of how Marquez joined his teammate on the fourth row of the grid and Viñales, with solid race pace, has to mount a comeback from 13th grid position.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'45.187    
2 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'45.417 0.230 0.230
3 5 Johann Zarco Ducati 1'45.432 0.245 0.015
4 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'45.538 0.351 0.106
5 43 Jack Miller Ducati 1'45.598 0.411 0.060
6 33 Brad Binder KTM 1'45.743 0.556 0.145
7 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM 1'45.745 0.558 0.002
8 42 Alex Rins Suzuki 1'45.996 0.809 0.251
9 36 Joan Mir Suzuki 1'46.076 0.889 0.080
10 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'46.084 0.897 0.008
11 93 Marc Marquez Honda 1'46.125 0.938 0.041
12 44 Pol Espargaro Honda 1'46.393 1.206 0.268
    Q1 Results:        
Q2 93 Marc Marquez Honda 1'45.924    
Q2 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'46.024 0.100 0.100
13 12 Maverick Viñales Yamaha 1'46.045 0.121 0.021
14 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati 1'46.129 0.205 0.084
15 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'46.195 0.271 0.066
16 51 Michele Pirro Ducati 1'46.302 0.378 0.107
17 10 Luca Marini Ducati 1'46.481 0.557 0.179
18 9 Danilo Petrucci KTM 1'46.548 0.624 0.067
19 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'46.770 0.846 0.222
20 27 Iker Lecuona KTM 1'47.084 1.160 0.314
21 32 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 1'47.146 1.222 0.062
22 73 Alex Marquez Honda 1'47.216 1.292 0.070
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How demeaning for a once great competitor to be reduced to begging for crumbs at the table of far faster riders. And even then to end up a second off the pace. 

...or, maybe he was sizing up his ability to close in on a competitor and potentially pass him versus the pain level in his shoulder in preparation for Sunday. That's what I was thinking watching this cat and cat (no mice here!) game earlier. 

I wonder if anyone else would have been as miffed as Vinales to the extent that he tossed away his chances of performing at a higher level. His team is likely much more pissed off.

..... many things are possible, although I think you'd agree that that would be an unusual tactic to employ throughout qualifying, when the objective is to achieve the fastest possible lap time. In the same way, when I saw how close he was riding to Bagnaia I had to dismiss the admittedly lighthearted notion that he might be considering asking for his hand in marriage. No, he couldn't have been more obviously looking for a tow if he'd had a length of rope dangling from his waist. 

Qualifying 19th at one of his favourite circuits when the same bike is on pole is sad to watch. He seems to have no answer apart from vague comments about braking etc.

If he carries on like this it will start to become embarrassing for him and his fans.

He has nothing left to prove, but as with many sportsmen and women before him who can't believe they are past their prime, there comes a time when trying to carry on just indicates that he should have retired last year. 


Rossi is slow, yeah. And he probably should give his bike to Morbidelli. But he's having fun, he's making money for himself and MotoGP and AGV and Yamaha, and he's not really getting in anyone's way. Not necessarily embarrassing. 

It sure doesn't look like he is having fun running off the track and being off the pace back there. His special helmet could feature a blue flag.

He knows, just planning his announcement and a big celebration. It is an important event, Dorna folks and others involved. Likely overlapping with an announcement of Ducati bikes for Bonesaw46 next yr, along with which Spanish Journo is getting disappeared. Much to prepare. His riding speaks. 

Track Record broken by Quartararo on that Pole lap btw. (Same bike!) He was SO happy, "best lap of my life." Still thinking he is going to get out raced by the Ducati. The inline 4's have to work so much harder and a race distance is long indeed. Will enjoy being wrong.

Hoping for Brad, either Suzuki or even A.Espargaro to throw a strong surprise in tomorrow. Hate to say it, but it has been a while since Zarco has caused a crash. Has he changed his ways? Doubt it, so perhaps he is due to change the luck around him again. 

Marquez harassed Vinales unabashedly for so long in Q1. "Give me your lunch money!" Just took it out of his hand at the counter. No response or eye contact in pitlane. Blatantly unrelenting and pushing limits, just like his corner entries. During a time when eyes are on penalties for tow trollers. Balls, eh?

Go Pecco!

Prophetic words about Zarco? Do they qualify as the dreaded "commentator's curse" that the GP announcers are so fond of using? Don't believe I would say that Zarco caused the collision with Bastianini though. The Beast probably wasn't paying attention. And I can't blame him for that either considering what happened. I'd call it a warmup lap incident. Still...it's weird (stumbling across your comment after the race weekend).


He could even say that he has some form of long covid or sth. like that so that he could save his face. I think that he had no really good results since his infection.

Sadly, its time to go. I grew up with him dominating the racing, so its kind of sad....

Most if not all of the paddock would have grown up watching Vale in his prime. He's old enough to be the father of two thirds of them, probably more like 80% or 90% if you include the lower classes. And in his own class, while he has declined massively this year, he's still not the slowest rider on the grid. In other words, even at 42 years of age, he's still one of the fastest circuit racers in the world. That's quite an achievement. I appreciate that the bike helps, but you've still got to be able to ride the thing. So for me, it's less about feeling embarrassed for him (why on earth should I be embarrassed anyway), more the sadness of seeing the end of an era.

Marquez and the tow. I must be missing something here. Riders do this all the time in the race itself, they'll try to be in the best possible position to nick the win and sitting on someone's tail is sometimes how they play it. So why is this judged differently for qualifying? Unsporting? None of them are angels when it comes to pure sportsmanship.