To say that Fabio Quartararo was a strong anchor for Yamaha in the 2021 MotoGP World Championship is hard to overestimate.
Not only did the Frenchman loosen up in his role as a Yamaha factory rider this year, but has really made a name for himself with a series of appearances that allayed any fears that his crisis of confidence could last into 2021 towards the end of 2020.
His efforts were crucial in covering up a veritable crisis at Yamaha in 2021. Actually take him out of the equation and it was an otherwise disastrous campaign for the Iwata company.
Quartararo was the best Yamaha finisher in 12 of the 15 races, winning five of them, although really only one of them – Vinales’ victory in lap 1 in Qatar – counts on pure performance as the other two appeared when the Frenchman suffered from an arm pump Jerez, who dropped him out of the lead and to 13, plus Catalunya when he was downgraded to sixth place behind his teammate on penalties.
Forget about Quartararo for a moment and the other highlights from Yamaha are worryingly sparse. A win plus another podium for Vinales, along with a single podium for a disabled Morbidelli are the only obvious headlines. Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi is the last of the full-time drivers in the overall standings for his swan campaign …
Seeing just a single Yamaha in Q2 is now a regularity, and while Yamaha’s seismic driver rotation has been an obvious justification since the end of the summer break, it’s really alarming to hold on to in the last six Grands Prix only 15 points were collected between three M1s. To put in context Quartararo alone has 98. achieved.
Remarkably, Yamaha is still fighting for the coveted ‘Triple Crown’ because of Quartararo alone.
With three laps left, Quartararo comes with a clear “match point” to the upcoming MotoGP in Emilia Romagna, provided he does not allow Pecco Bagnaia to reduce their current lead from 52 points to less than 51 points.
Despite the gap between Quartararo and Bagnaia, Ducati is ahead in the team and manufacturers’ championship and has a two and ten point lead over Yamaha Factory Racing as it is.
The momentum is with Ducati’s relative embarrassment when it comes to quality performers. In addition to Bagnaia and Miller on the factory bikes, Ducati can also rely on Pramac Racing’s race winner Jorge Martin and podium winner Johann Zarco.
In contrast, Pramac Racing ranks fourth overall in the team standings, while the Yamaha Petronas SRT satellite attempt ranks first Bottom of the 11 teams with just a single podium 2021 after winning six races in 2020.
Ride the Yamaha MotoGP carousel
This is of course due to the Yamaha rider carousel – seven different riders in three seats – during the middle of the year, but it is not solely responsible.
Rossi’s form is a blatant subject, while the Vinales affair was preceded by wildly sporadic outbursts and break-ins. Meanwhile, Morbidelli became cumbersome and injured with the 2019 spec M1, but his switch to the factory M1 on his return was rather disappointing.
Then there’s Cal Crutchlow’s unexpected calling, switching between two teams, the constant opening laps of Andrea Dovizioso’s MotoGP comeback, as well as the obvious limitations of throwing debutants Garrett Gerloff and Jake Dixon into the deep end.
The fact that Yamaha continues to chase the team and manufacturers’ standings is testament to the efforts of Quartararo, who not only kept Yamaha at the top in battle but also kept it from falling all the way down.
Perhaps it is no wonder that Yamaha MotoGP boss Lin Jarvis does not rate Yamaha’s chances of winning the Triple Crown highly, a particularly annoying incident given that victory in 2020 was prevented due to a penalized error in engine modification.
“We lost the constructors’ championship last year because we made a mistake with the engines,” Jarvis told Speedweek. “This year we have the chance for the ‘Triple Crown’, but that’s very difficult to be honest. Look at Ducati: you have Miller and Bagnaia.
“That’s why it’s going to be difficult for us in the Team World Cup. As for the manufacturer’s title, it all depends on Fabio. Only at the first Grand Prix in Qatar was he not the best Yamaha rider because Maverick won there.
“We lost a lot of races in the Maverick Viñales affair. We lost the Sachsenring Grand Prix because Maverick had a very bad result there. Then, with what happened, we lost the Styrian Grand Prix and that’s why it was banned from the Austrian Grand Prix. Then came the split and there was Cal Crutchlow at Silverstone and Aragón as a substitute driver in the works team… ”.
“We lost four or more races and with it a lot of valuable points for the brand and the team championship. Fabio’s new teammates have not yet collected any points. Of course, a substitute driver is never as competitive as a regular driver, because the quality of the drivers on the grid is extremely high today. “
Category: Yamaha MotoGP