Fabio Quartararo’s first race as MotoGP World Champion was his worst of the year as the Yamaha rider crashed out from seventh.
Having spent the majority of the AlgarveGP at the tail end of the top 10 and stuck behind the Pramac Ducati pair of Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin, Quartararo ultimately fell at turn five attempting to free himself of the Frenchman. The move proved his downfall for his first DNF of 2021, but the Monster Energy rider admits he had little to lose at that point so it was worth the try.
“To be honest when I crash, I was just 'let's see what happens’,” Quartararo explained on Sunday evening. "I was on the limit and I couldn't make the corner but I know that if I was waiting I will have been overtaken by the others and I just give it a try and the try was not working.
“Honestly I could go much faster all the race,” he continued. “I could really have the pace from Pecco for sure, but you know, when you are stuck behind…
"I remember [Bagnaia] starts here 11th and to overtake was not a big issue, but for me, I stay 15 laps behind Martin. Even if he was riding one-second slower I couldn't overtake. For me, the grip was much better - we know that when we are before Moto2 is better - but to be honest, we are too far [away] with the speed that we have.”
Having qualified seventh, his second-worst Saturday performance of the year after Misano’s P15 disaster, the World Champion knew it would be an uphill task at the rollercoaster layout.
“In that kind of tracks when we miss the qualifying we are just pushing on the limit and I make a lot of mistakes,” he admitted. “The one of the crash, I was braking way too late and I tried to turn, so I know why I crashed but is really a shame that we have these kinds of difficulties because the bike is so good to ride but with this speed, you can't make any mistake.
“If you make a great qualify, I was able to fight for the victory for sure. But if you miss the qualifying, you can say ‘bye-bye’ to the podium and the victory.
“In the end, during the year, you can bring new chassis,” Quartararo said, reflecting on what he needs from Yamaha for next season’s title defence. “You can have an evolution in Jerez test, in Misano test, Barcelona test but you can't have evolution of engine so I think they should push so much the engine, because to be honest for the future is not going to be easy.”
With the championship wrapped up in Misano and the pressure off, did a lack of concentration come into play for his first race crash of the year?
“To be honest, no,” he confirmed, “because this morning my pace was really good. All the weekend was good apart from Saturday afternoon. Is just a shame to feel that difference.
“I see clear weak points on our bike that the others don't have. But also I see clear positive points that some others don't have. We really need to, even if we lost in one way we need to gain on that top speed because to overtake is just a nightmare. Well, we just can't overtake.”