Cal Crutchlow is back on a factory M1 at Silverstone this weekend as he returns to the Monster Energy Yamaha team for the similarly titled BritishGP.
Replacing the prematurely, but now permanently, departed Maverick Viñales, Crutchlow will partner Fabio Quartararo for the season’s sole race on home soil, with a sold-out British crowd ready to cheer him on.
“It’s great to come to Silverstone. I never thought I'd be racing a Silverstone Grand Prix again after I retired last year!” Crutchlow admitted. “Obviously we missed last year, which was always already disappointing, but to be able to come back this weekend with the Monster Energy Yamaha team is a privilege.
“It's a privilege to ride Silverstone anyway and then now with a full crowd that's sold out, it's going to be entertaining for everybody. I look forward to it.
"I look forward to getting out there and try and do my best. Obviously, riding in Austria was not easy after so long off the bike, but to come this weekend here, maybe in a little bit better of a situation after the last two races, I look forward to seeing what we can do.
“I think Austria was not too bad. On paper, obviously it's always gonna look bad but we expected nothing and we got nothing.
“We got some information for Yamaha, I did my job and enjoyed it, which was the main thing because after so long off the bike, to ride again is always enjoyable. But actually speed-wise we're not too bad. I qualified about half-a-tenth slower than what I did last year on a Honda, so after five months off it, it was not too bad. I enjoyed the ride, I felt good on the bike and in the end, hopefully this weekend I'll feel a little bit more comfortable, with not so big a gap off.
“Silverstone's a good circuit for that because I know a lot of the tricks of the trade around here, where in Austria I really, really don't.
“It's definitely a riders track,” he continued. “The only thing is here you don't have to worry about any undulation, because with it being an old airfield ground it's completely flat. Normally, if you make a mistake in the braking zone in Silverstone, you have somewhere to go because the track is really, really wide. I made some mistakes in Austria, sure because I hadn't rode in a long time but I was just lucky to be able to stay on the track and do my job. Here is a different story, we'll try and get a bit faster and 18 corners, means I've got eight more to play with!” he joked.
This weekend sees Crutchlow back aboard the 2021-spec YZR-M1 after a fortnight with Petronas Yamaha on Franky Morbidelli’s 2019 machine. The current model allows the Brit to continue working on his testing duties while he partners back up with crew chief Silvano Galbusera - who moved from the test team into the factory squad in early June.
“I think it's good that I'm on the 2021 bike,” the 35-year-old confirmed. “Obviously this is the bike I've been testing, earlier in the year, a long time ago. I'm sure the direction for next year's bike, the 2022 bike which I will start to test I'm sure soon, will be more directed on the 2021 bike. So anything we learn is helpful, anything we can give to Fabio, and to the other guys on the 2021 bike is always positive.
“The good thing with me is they can do what they want, these guys have a championship to race in, 45-minute sessions are really, really difficult, but for me they can try anything. So in the end, this is quite a positive thing, I think, from that standpoint.
“Obviously in the last couple of races, it was difficult to find anything because I was on the older machine as such, and also getting up to speed was difficult but now we can maybe start to do something. So we'll see, we'll see how the weekend goes, it's good to be working with Silvano again, my crew chief that I was working with at the test. We know each other well, and we can start from tomorrow to see what we can do.”
With Yamaha’s second seat still vacant for the remainder of the season, at least officially, Crutchlow’s services may be required more frequently in the coming weeks, but the Brit is remaining tight-lipped on the subject. When quizzed he simply replied "Yes, I do know how long I will be racing and no I won't be telling you, because this is not my business. But I will be racing here this weekend which is always good.”