Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo has conceded that a black flag in yesterday’s Catalan Grand Prix would not have been unwarranted, given that he completed the final five laps of the race with his leathers opened.
Instead, he was eventually handed a three-second penalty that demoted him from fourth to sixth for the rule-break – a penalty that many have deemed to be bizarre.
It’s now believed by The Race’s contacts in the MotoGP paddock that the leading theory for what went wrong was inadvertent user error by Quartararo, as he attempted to reposition his chest protector after it slid up inside his suit. Not held in place by anything and sliding towards his throat, he may have accidentally loosened his leathers as he pushed it back into place – allowing the wind as he sat up to brake for turn one to unzip his entire suit.
Speaking after today’s one-day test at the Montmelo circuit, though, he admitted that after the heat of the moment his original stance had been somewhat reversed – and that he can see why many of his fellow competitors expressed disbelieved that he wasn’t black flagged for his own safety.
“First of all, I think looking back at what happened, now that the story is finished I can be happy,” he told the media. “It’s difficult to admit, but yes, it was a black flag. It’s true that I put myself in danger, and after what happened last week it would have been the correct thing to do. But I got lucky.
“The only penalty I don’t agree with is the shortcut, because I lost seven-tenths. If I had lost one second, the penalty wouldn’t have happened – but how can I know on the bike that I’d only lost seven-tenths and not a second? It was a little bit stupid, but I admit the second penalty. I was angry, of course, but better this than zero points.”
In fact, while he might have conceded that his second penalty was justified, it was the first penalty he received, which knocked him off the podium, which he remains most incensed about.
Demoted for shortcutting Turns 1 and 2 after almost crashing out – a situation that could have been disastrous given his exposed chest at the time – he echoed the views of many of his fellow competitors in saying he doesn’t understand the increasingly black and white direction that the FIM MotoGP stewards are taking.
“Right now, the more safety there is the better,” the Frenchman insisted, “but we’re getting into some things that I really don’t like, like Mir and Mugello in the last lap at Mugello. They missed track limits, but it was at the end of the kerb not off the kerb – it wasn’t even any gain.
“My shortcut wasn’t because I wanted to gain, it was because I lost the front and nearly crashed. The shortcut was slower than normal so it wasn’t a shortcut.
“Every time for me the rules get more and more strict and we can’t always be precise with our likes – we make mistakes. It’s taking out the fun side of the show.
“We’re not robots and a few mistakes by the riders should be allowed, especially when you have to do 24 laps at the limits.