Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo faced a challenging British GP at Silverstone on Sunday.
While the reigning champion had a long lap penalty to dispatch in the opening stages of the 20-lap race, it was his rear tyre choice which ultimately struck the biggest blow to his high points-scoring chances.
Having failed to try the hard Michelin option across the UK weekend, Quartararo and his Yamaha squad were sure the Medium had what it took to challenge at the front. But in traffic, after the penalty dropped him to fifth - behind Ducati Lenovo’s Pecco Bagnaia and ahead, initially, of Aprilia’s Maverick Viñales - the YZR-M1 struggled, eventually forcing the Frenchman to drop back to eighth at the line.
“I think we made a mistake of not trying the hard rear tyre in practice,” Quartararo said of his disappointing Sunday. “I think the first lap I did everything perfect on start, long lap, everything was okay but just behind the riders my rear tyre overheats so much and we don't know really why. The reason I think is because following people was difficult. So yeah, difficult to not really made the hard tyre decision.
“I did my best and I think with the medium tyre, we couldn't make better.
“If you check, all the top ten was with the hard rear and we were the only one with the medium. On the practice this morning, I did ’59.9 with almost the race distance. So that was something that make us took the decision that we were pretty sure but in the group was totally different.
“I'm disappointed because I thought the long lap will have penalised me much more and finally was not so bad. Just the rear tyre was so bad and behind riders, we cannot ride our bike, is just nightmare. When is one bike is okay but as soon as there is more than one bike, the rear tyre was so hot that lose performance then it goes down then you are riding in a total different way than the others and for us to overtake is a nightmare.”
With the Frenchman circulating in the middle of the leading pack, rather than clearing out at the front as he’s so used to doing, he was able to analyse the machines around him in regards to his M1.
“Top speed!” He said simply and rather expectedly. "Top speed, acceleration, rear grip, lot of things that we don't have but I prefer not to talk too much about this. The main thing for us is to stay focussed and not really look at some negative point that we have because we cannot improve it for this year.
“I think we can be fast all the tracks but really a track that suit us? There is no track,” he said on the upcoming second half of the season. “There is all tracks with a lot of acceleration and long straights. Of course we didn't go to Japan last year. We didn't go to Thailand. But of course it's full of acceleration and long straights so let's see how is going.”
While one title-rival, Aleix Espargaro, also struggled on Sunday - due in no small part to his now-diagnosed fractured right foot after Saturday’s highside - another, Bagnaia, arrived in full strength to take the victory.
“At the end, I think we need to look at Pecco,” Quartararo said of the coming championship fight. “Because Pecco is the one that really made the difference right now, the last two races. So he is the one that we really need to focus on.
“They have much more experience than us, they have more bikes,” he said of Ducati’s dominant showing in MotoGP. “As soon as we arrive on the Friday we are always fast because our bike is really, really similar than the previous years. The more races they do, more they know their bikes and they can, of course on Friday a little bit slower, but as soon as we make more laps and more days, they are much faster than us.
“It's not going to be an easy job because now is arriving races where we are, will not say struggling but Austria with a lot of straights, Misano a track where he is always really fast, Pecco. Aragon. So tough races coming ahead.”