Yamaha Racing Team Director Massimo Meregalli says the manufacturer is ‘committed’ to reversing its fortunes in the wake of a sharp decline in form during the 2023 MotoGP World Championship season.
Title winners in 2021 with Fabio Quartararo, the Frenchman came into this season keen to make amends for being pipped to the 2022 MotoGP crown by Pecco Bagnaia.
However, despite working to extract more power from the M1 at the request of Quartararo, Yamaha's changes weren’t enough to make a noticeable difference versus rivals, while tweaks to the engine threw up other chassis-related issues.
As such, Quartararo and team-mate Franco Morbidelli’s form would fluctuate over the season, leaving Yamaha empty-handed in terms of winners’ trophies, much to its chagrin.
“I can’t hide our disappointment, we started our season with different aims but unfortunately quite quickly we understood we were not as competitive as the others. We are used to fighting for the podium and the championship, but it took some time for us and the rider to digest this situation.
“What we missed and we are still missing is the time attack, and this is a big problem because even if you have a good pace and you start from the back it is very difficult to go forward.”
"Quartararo was always thinking about what he can improve..."
The lacklustre season comes at a critical time for Yamaha in its bid to hold onto Quartararo when his current contract expires at the end of the season.
Indeed, the 11-time race winner has spoken openly about his keeping his options for the future if Yamaha is unable to supply him with a package to take on current benchmarks, Ducati.
However, while Meregalli admits his head dropped early on as he struggled to accept the situation, he says the 24-year old’s mentality became more positive and forward-facing as the season progressed.
“At the beginning it wouldn’t be easy for him to accept and to really change the target, but one of these really good points, every time we had a negative result the sadness appeared quite soon. He was always thinking about what would be next, what he can improve. “
Moreover, Meregalli feels Yamaha - which ended the year with three full-length GP podiums - made strides over the course of the year to end the season with a more competitive machine than what it started with.
“The only positive thing is that we usually start strong and then we lose our performances, but this year the last few races we have achieved a couple of podiums and had some interesting pace, it improved. We started working, not better, but in the right direction and this is giving us good confidence.
“We are fully committed to recover our competitiveness. We don’t want to repeat another season like that, but we are also positive that when you reach this kind of situation it takes times to get back. We have started working in a different way and we really want to make a step in 2024.”
Though it is still without a satellite partner next season, Yamaha Racing will enter 2024 with a revised rider line-up as Alex Rins swaps from LCR Honda to join Quartararo.