Fabio Quartararo has once more bemoaned the straight-line performance of his Yamaha M1 after his torrid start to the 2023 MotoGP World Championship season continued with a crash during the Grand Prix of The Americas Sprint Race.
The Frenchman came down on his own at the tricky uphill Turn 1 left-hander on lap five of the 10-lap encounter, scuppering his hopes of a first top five finish of the season.
Indeed, the 2021 MotoGP World Champion made a bright start in the first of two races this weekend at Circuit of The Americas, rising from seventh on the grid to fourth in the early laps.
However, after being picked off by the Ducatis of Jorge Martin and Alex Marquez down the back straight, Quartararo’s attempts to compensate in the braking areas would lead to his front-end fold. Though he’d remount, he would finish well outside the top nine.
When asked whether he felt he was overriding the Yamaha in order to get a banker result on the board after finishing tenth and seventh in the opening two rounds, Quartararo pointed to the M1’s ongoing lack of straight-line performance - a regular bugbear of the package in recent years - for forcing him to go heavier on the brakes.
“I am feeling frustrated because we had the speed and when we are riding with the others we cannot do anything, so it is really frustrating but we have to stay calm and try to find a solution as soon as possible.
“The race I was not overriding, only in braking because it’s where the engine is not so important, so it was the only point I was recovering the guys in front and where we need to make a step.
"If you don’t make a great start your race is basically gone. The thing for GP is to make a great start and be aggressive in the first laps."
Has Yamaha improved its MotoGP top speed performance?
Quartararo had come into the weekend recognising that qualifying and the start are critical for him to secure a good result to prevent him from getting bottled up in the pack and leave him vulnerable on the straights.
Though Yamaha - which has traditionally preferred to weight its package towards agile handling over outright power - has sought to make the M1 more powerful for 2023, Quartararo is still lingering at the bottom end of the top speed charts in each session.
According to the official data, the Yamaha M1 is peaking at approximately the same top speed at COTA as it was in 2022, so on average around 335km/h per session
That said, it is noticeable that while Ducati still commands the top positions in the COTA speed charts as it did in 2022, it isn’t hitting the same peaks, with Luca Marini’s 346km/h down on Jack Miller’s 350km/h best from last year.
Suggesting Ducati has adopted a more compliant handling set-up for 2023 at the expense of some top end performance, while it means Quartararo has a net gain overall, he’ll be frustrated that Yamaha’s specific focus over the winter hasn’t yielded any specific improvements itself.