Cal Crutchlow was back at Silverstone in front of the home fans as he joined the Monster Energy Yamaha team for the BritishGP, swapping the 2019 M1 for the 2021 version this weekend.
“I actually didn’t feel very comfortable today, but that’s normal,” Critchlow admitted on the transition from Austria with Petronas, back into the factory team.
“The amount of riding I’ve done this year, I don’t feel comfortable on the bike, particularly at the moment. So we changed the handlebar position, things like that. Because the last time I rode the 2021 bike was the start of April, and then I rode the ‘19 bike and it’s a little bit different, position wise.
“So, it was again about getting used to riding again, the 2021 bike. Sure, the bike feels better in some areas, especially the braking. The power of the bike is better than the ’19 bike, so, already I had a better feeling with that side of the bike, but we’re using the Yamaha base setting of the bike at the moment, which is not my preferred setting.
“Even when I tested the bike I was always different from the guys, but it’s good that I was different to the other guys because it gives them more information, a different setting of the bike. Yes, it’s a decent step, but they generally ride the base setting and they are all pretty much very, very similar, or were. Where I was a little bit different when I rode the 2021 bike and I felt more comfortable with that. We are riding on the base, so I feel a little bit not as comfortable in the moment.
“I had a good day, I enjoyed riding, it was nice to get out there. I would have liked to have been a little bit quicker, but this is normal. Everybody wants to be a bit quicker.
“Overall, happy to be riding, it was nice go out there at Silverstone, it’s a great track, and hopefully we can fix some of the problems I had today, overnight and for tomorrow. Maybe change the setting a little bit, also the electronics. I believe we can make quite a good step there. Overall I was quite happy.
“Riding in front of the home fans, it was nice to see so many people here on a Friday. They’ve missed it for two years so there was a lot of people here for a Friday. Good to go out there, good to be back and it’s nice that they’ve got two Brits on the grid,” he confirmed.
With two race weekends in Austria to focus his recent comparison, Crutchlow is automatically more comfortable back on home soil.
“I’m pushing the bike a lot more than what I was pushing in Austria, that’s for sure,” he admitted.
“In Austria I never really got on massively with the circuit anyway. The bike that I was riding was definitely not suited to the track. If I looked at the pace that I had in Austria, it was not far off pace what they were doing in 2019 with that bike and that’s the reality.
“I didn’t think I did a bad job in Austria, just everybody else is going one-second quicker, and that’s the way it is. Here I feel I’m able to push a lot more. After riding in those two Austria races, I had a little bit of arm-pump this morning but that’s quite normal for me, and this afternoon was not too bad, but I need to stop the bike shaking.
“The bike is, at the moment, quite unstable and we need to fix that problem because it’s a long lap around here if the bike is shaking a lot. If we can fix that, that’d be half the problem, also the electronics, and I’ll be able to push even more.”
The main subject of Yamaha rider’s complaints in recent years, apart from top-speed, has always been rear grip. Crutchlow believes Silverstone is a step above in that regard.
“The grip here is better but you have a lot of long hanging corners, turn one, that you can slide the bike a lot, the last one you slide the bike a lot. If you overheat the tyre there’s a problem around turn one, then the problem tipping into turn three, because the tyres are so hot but in general the rear grip is different for every manufacturer in different points of the tyre, I believe.
“Yamaha, probably has not so bad edge grip anyway, the chassis and the bike seems to have good edge grip, but on the drive grip side, when you pick the bike up, maybe it’s not as good in that area, as the edge grip. But when I rode the Honda, the edge grip is really bad, but when you pick the bike up, it’s good. If you could build the perfect bike everybody would want that perfect bike.
“It’s also different for different riders. I like to slide the bike more. One rider wants amazing grip, the other guy wants to slide a little bit, the next guy might want a bit of both. You can do a lot of that with the setting, traction control, these things.
“Fabio, he rides well in nearly all conditions, whether the track is slippy or if the truck is grippy, he goes well in all. When Maverick was here, he just wanted a lot more rear grip. Valentino I think he’s a little bit in the middle, so it depends the rider, it depends the manufacturer, but I believe that Yamaha has good side grip. We need to improve the drive grip, but this can come from the engine, can come from the electronic, chassis, and you have to work out which one it is, and that’s my job!”