Yamaha MotoGP riders have admitted to being concerned about what happens next for the factory, after a second engine failure in as many races as the 2020 season got underway.
A technical problem in today’s Andalusian Grand Prix cost Petronas Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli the chance of his first-ever premier class podium, robbing the Italian of the opportunity to fight fellow Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi for second place.
That comes off the back of Rossi being last week’s victim, with the factory rider forced to park his bike in almost the exact same place on the Jerez circuit during the Spanish Grand Prix.
It’s also been confirmed that Yamaha’s four riders have all used at least four of the five engines allocated to them for the entire season now, with Maverick Vinales having already used all five and with him joining both Rossi and presumably Morbidelli in withdrawing one of their allowance for the season.
With 11 races remaining in the shortened MotoGP season, this presents a real worry for Yamaha. Using a sixth engine, outside the reduced allowance, would force a rider into a pitlane start.
And with MotoGP’s engines sealed ahead of the season to restrict development, it would require Yamaha to apply for special concessions to modify them on safety grounds.
However, speaking after the race, victor Fabio Quartararo was quick to downplay any potential failure, stressing that it has yet to affect him and until it does there’s nothing he can do about it.
“I’m not worried. The job of the rider is to perform on the track, and we have hundreds of engineers working on the bike. If there is a problem they have two weeks, and I hope they find something. I’ve had zero problems so far and I’m just focusing on riding.”
Vinales was a little firmer in his rhetoric, saying: “The engine didn’t give any problems right now, all the race was consistent, didn’t drop the power. So, we’ll see more [going] forward, but as Fabio said now they have two weeks to understand what was the problems on the engine – because we see Franco broke an engine, Valentino broke an engine last week.
“We need to find and fix it. It’s very important also because this championship is going to be difficult and we have to put a lot of pressure on the engine, especially in the next two races.”
Rossi too stressed the engine situation required “attention”.
Morbidelli himself was typically circumspect afterwards, too, with the Italian-Brazilian quick to focus not on the DNF but on the big step forward he believes that he and his team mate at Jerez.
“A technical problem stopped me, but it can happen in racing. My bike just shut off while I was on the straight but we really don’t know what caused it. But I just worry about the things I can control and this is something I can’t control.
“I can just worry about my riding and how to set up the bike, and I’m happy about that. I’ve been fast in the last two races, feeling strong and closing in on the podium and on first place. I’ve been able to put in fast laps late in the race. I’m going to take this great thing to Austria, to Brno, to the end of the championship and to the end of my career!”
Yamaha isn’t being slow to address the issue, either, with Vinales’ broken engine from last weekend (which let go during Saturday’s free practice three) already back in Japan for analysis at its Iwata base.
And, speaking after Sunday’s race, Yamaha Factory Engineering boss Lin Jarvis says the factory is going to make the most of the upcoming 10 days’ break before the Czech Grand Prix to find a solution.
“I’m sorry for Franco, since he was doing an excellent race until the problem. We’ve lost three engines in two weekends so we are worried, but at the same time we ended two excellent weekends with three Yamahas on the podium.
“We have to understand the problem and see if it’s been the same problem every time, and then find a solution.”