Yamaha’s factory duo of Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo ended their first day of pre-season testing under the floodlights of Qatar admitting that they’re not yet really to make a call on whether the 2021 Yamaha M1 will bring them the improvements they need for the coming season, instead adamant that more time on the bike is first needed.
The pair completed 51 and 69 laps respectively, ending the first seven hours of the season in ninth and 15th. However, with both of them taking their time to get up to speed and only dedicating some of the day to the new bike as a result, they were guarded in their judgements on the new spec.
“First of all, I tried to get the rhythm with the 2020 bike, and it felt really good,” said Vinales afterwards. “We tried very general things, nothing very specific, and the feeling was good.
“We need to keep working now, and we have to understand what to try next. Overall it was very positive though.
“We need much more laps and we need to change settings. Today the track was different from what we expected, and we need much more time before we can decide which items to add to the bike.
“We’re going to try and test everything with an open mind, without taking any conclusions, because we’ve got two days off to do that before the next test.”
Chief among those new items up for close examination will be a new frame, one which attempts to give Yamaha the consistency that Franco Morbidelli enjoyed in 2020 from his year-old bike, but modified to hold the ’20 spec of engine.
An attempt to make the Yamaha less sensitive to changing conditions and to widen the range in which the M1 can be fast, the new chassis will undoubtedly be the single most important component on the schedule for the coming day.
With a bigger adaptation than his new team-mate, it turned out to be a tougher day for Quartararo as he completed his first day of MotoGP running in factory colours.
Admitting that he struggled in the first hours of the test to adapt back to prototype machinery after a winter of training on road bikes, Quartararo – who had COVID-19 in the off-season – too says more time is needed.
“I struggled to get used to the bike again, for more than half a day. To switch from the R1 to the M1 left me totally lost, but in the end I’m happy because I got the feeling in the end and we made a good test,” Quartararo said.
“We tested the new chassis, but it took half a way to get back to riding properly and I can’t really say if it was better or not. We’ve got one more day to really test it properly, so that I can really try and feel all the details. My laptime was slower, but I wasn’t riding at 100% and tomorrow will give us a better chance to discover the bike.”
Quartararo also admitted that he’s still adapting not only to the bike but to a whole new team environment after two years within satellite squad Petronas Yamaha. Well used to the pressure of having to perform on a Sunday, he says that being a factory rider brings a whole new kind of challenge.
“It’s maybe too early to say what the main changes are after only one day as a factory rider at a test, but what I can say already is that you have a lot more people in blue in the box! You feel like you have more responsibility, but I like these kinds of jobs!