Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo was putting on a brave face as preparations concluded for the inaugural MotoGP weekend of 2023.
While the Frenchman’s request for an increase in top speed may finally have been heard by the Japanese manufacturer, improvements to his YZR-M1 weren’t quite as forthcoming as the 2021 champion would have liked.
“Engine is the thing that I’ve asked, we make a step forward,” Quartararo said on Thursday from the MotoGP pre-event press conference. “Still not enough, I think if they keep going they can improve it but we are still far away from what we have to have in the bike.
“Was a lot of new items but at the end, on the last day we went back to all the basics and last year’s setup,” he said of ‘progress’ made during the final test at the algarve International Circuit. “We needed this time to figure out how is the new items working, we couldn’t figure it out so we went back to last year’s set up and went immediately better.
“I don’t know if it’s good or not because at the end, we are more or less in the same place as last year. A little bit better of course because you have more top speed but we have to work to try to improve.
“Actually, during the last day of test, I’ve been able to make a great lap - two laps in a row with the same lap times,” the Yamaha rider confirmed of his one lap pace. “We are still missing compared to Ducati because the last day was all of the Ducatis in the top eight, so of course we are missing. I think everybody’s on the limit and is all about details but we have to make steps during the year. This is I think the weak point that we had also the previous years, that as soon as we start the season we have no evolution to the end.
“This year, if we’re going to be on top we have to bring evolution during the season.”
While Quartararo was the only rider to disrupt Ducati’s domination on the final day of preseason testing, his confidence in the demanding season ahead wavered under the glare of Thursday’s cameras.
“Physically I feel that I’ve made a step compared to the last year,” he stated. “It’s going to be hard, we have 42 races this year. I think that this is the main thing to be ready. I think the intensity of this year will be much higher because also FP2, at the end is one hour but will be super intense because is the moment to make your time attacks, to prepare the race, so it’s gonna be really intense. The sprint race, yeah, it’s gonna be intense but I think physically I’ve made a step also this year.”
And of his title rival, Pecco Bagnaia?
“When you check the pace and the lap times he did here, was amazing! Of course we know Ducati is the best package right now from far but he’s the guy that is always on top of the seven others. So he’s the fastest at the moment but we want to make his life harder. I will give my 100 per cent”