The vice-champion prepares for a season of unknowns, starting with the competitiveness of his Yamaha
After a rather complicated year, Fabio Quartararo lines up for the 2023 season with the intention of retaking the MotoGP throne, snatched by Pecco Bagnaia after the Italian made an historic comeback. At one point last season, the Frenchman was lying 91 points ahead of the Italian, but with Bagnaia’s recovery and the Yamaha M1’s difficulties in terms of competitiveness, Quartararo was forced to watch his lead slowly and steadily diminish, with the Frenchman ultimately finishing the year as runner-up.
For a good part of last year, the Frenchman appeared stronger than ever, perhaps more so than during his title winning year (2021) at times. With the other Yamaha riders struggling throughout the season aboard a bike that fell short in terms of performance at almost every track, Quartararo was able to extract the maximum possible potential from it to score three wins and eight podiums in all.
Can the 2023 M1 mark a turning point?
This winter the Yamaha has undergone significant development, from engine performance to improved tyre management. The Iwata manufacturer officially unveiled the 2023 bike earlier this week and although there is cautious optimism as to the modifications made during the off-season, the final judgment will be made at the track. Quartararo will turn 24 in April and has already been a reference point in the top class for three years. Thanks to his talent and speed, the Frenchman has been able to take over the reins in MotoGP in terms of competitiveness and over the last two years he has been in the best form of his career.
The M1’s lack of competitiveness in recent years has clearly slowed progress on the route to race wins and, why not, world titles. Goals that are within reach for a Quartararo who many consider to be the most ‘complete’ rider on the entire grid, Marc Marquez and his injuries aside. In addition, one of the Frenchman’s main qualities last season was his ability to avoid mistakes, even in the most stressful of situations. There were setbacks of course, but almost all of those were down to difficulties with the M1.
Mission world title
There’s no denying it, Quartararo’s aim ahead of the 2023 is to regain the world title. To do so though, the Frenchman will need to adjust a statistic that has seen him struggle particularly in the second half of the season. In both 2021, the year of his world title, and 2022, Quartararo put together a stellar first half of the season only for this to be followed up by a more disappointing second half. If Yamaha wants to hold on to the only rider who has been able to keep the Iwata manufacturer afloat, then they will need to provide him with a bike of sufficiently high technical level.
As of now, the hurdle represented by Pecco Bagnaia and Ducati appears insurmountable and, with a Marc Marquez who is well on the way to recovery, the title goal seems even further away. On paper, Quartararo and the Yamaha look to be the third force in the championship but, as we’ve said, the Frenchman has often proved to be the most complete rider on the grid, fast, able to adapt to any situation and demonstrating a real ability to manage the races.