The start of the 2021 season has been fairly solid for Yamaha, the manufacturer dominating proceedings in Qatar, first with Maverick Viñales and then with Fabio Quartararo. The Frenchman was also able to make the difference in Portugal. He looked on course to do the same at Jerez, having scored his fourth consecutive pole (out of four) but compartmental syndrome comprised his performance come race day, meaning he crossed the line in thirteenth place.
Morbidelli the only M1 on the podium
The first Yamaha to cross the line was in fact Franco Morbidelli, the only rider who’s using an unofficial M1, or rather the 2019 version. So the last rider we might expect - technically speaking - to see on the podium. And yet crew chief Ramon Forcada was once again able to do his magic, giving him the best possible riding sensations and allowing the Italo-Brazilian to do a lot better than Viñales, seventh, Quartararo, thirteenth, and Valentino Rossi, seventeenth.
A comeback is required in France
Could this be a first sign of the Yamaha inconsistency we’ve seen in recent years? The Spaniard, having won the first race, hasn’t been able to fight at the front since, scoring results that clearly fall short of expectation (5th - 11th - 7th). “Morbido” is doing what he can with what he has available. The Italian is in a dark tunnel, the light apparently nowhere in sight. Meaning that everything, for now, seems to be resting on the shoulders of the young Frenchman, who’s now suffered a stroke of bad luck. Compartmental syndrome in his right arm, for which he’s just undergone surgery ahead of his home round of Le Mans. He’ll now focus on recovering, but at a track like Le Mans, favourable as it is to Yamaha, the M1 needs to take a significant step forward.
Translated by Heather Watson