MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo has insisted that Sunday’s race at Aragon was not a disaster for him, after coming home in eighth place as championship rivals Pecco Bagnaia and defending champion Joan Mir finished first and third respectively at the Motorland Aragon circuit.
Not quite pointing the finger at MotoGP’s control tyre manufacturer in the way that some of his rivals have in recent weeks (including Bagnaia last time out at the British Grand Prix), the Frenchman says that he and his Monster Energy Yamaha team need to analyse things before pinning blame on anyone.
“I won’t say that it was a disaster,” the title favourite stressed after the race, “because in the end I didn’t do anything different.
“I don’t know what happened, but from the first lap it looked like my rear tyre was 15 laps old. We need to check deeply, and I don’t want to blame anyone, but it was a weird feeling from the first laps until the end of the race.
“I don’t want to say that it was the tyre, but let’s say that the feeling I had today is one that I never had in all the weekend. From the first lap, I never had the stopping performance, the feeling, grip, the traction. Something went wrong. Already on this track for us to overtake it’s quite a mess because from Turn 15 to Turn 1 we lose three or four tenths and then I have to recover it. It’s something a little bit difficult.”
That’s doubly frustrating for Quartararo given that he came into the weekend expecting to face a tough challenge ahead of him after a difficult race there last year – but instead found much more favourable conditions. Expecting the race to be significantly easier than he had predicted on Thursday made the eventual low result all the harder to take.
“After the warm-up, I expected to be fighting for the podium,” Quartararo admitted. “I felt like I had something really good, and I was feeling great with old tyres. With 26 laps on the tyre, I could still manage it.
“From the beginning of the race, I felt that something wasn’t working as normal, and I went down, down, down. The only positive thing of the day is that I fought for my position and I didn’t give up even when it was for seventh, eighth, ninth position. In the end that’s something positive.
“The positive thing that I take from today is that if you fight for victory in the race and finish P9, you’re disappointed – but today I gave everything to fight for one point more. These kinds of races, where you never give up, help the championship.”
And while he might have conceded valuable championship points to Bagnaia and Mir, with only 125 points remaining on offer form the final five races of the year and his lead still a healthy 53 points, Quartararo remains firmly in control of the season – and was relaxed about his prospects of still being crowned the 2021 victor.
“It’s not a disaster. This can happen,” said a Quartararo far removed from last season’s considerably less level-headed and calm character.
“I think from Sachsenring to Silverstone, I always increased my lead, even in Austria. We talked in Silverstone and said that it can happen that I lose some points too.
“Before Sachsenring I had a 10-point lead and here [pre-race] I have a 65-point lead. We increased it by 55 points to here, and it can happen that I can lose some – but it’s the first time in a long time that I have.
“It’s not a disaster, just something that we need to understand why it happened today.”