Quartararo finished second on Friday at the Algarve International Circuit, 0.340 seconds ahead of Francesco Bagnaia’s FP2 top lap on the Ducati.
The Portimao venue was one of the weakest tracks for the Yamaha factory riders in 2020, but Quartararo has been fighting a lot of his battles last year – when he dropped to 14th in the race and dropped from second to eighth overall – back to being mentally in the wrong attitude after a tough double headed ball from Valencia.
He noted that the 2021 M1 has a similar feel to the Qatar and that the bike is a “big step” compared to what it was in Portugal last year.
“So what I feel is first and foremost mental, I am stronger and I feel like I complain less and that helps,” he said on Friday.
“So it’s more about how I feel than how I ride the bike. That’s the first.”
“And then I think the bike has the same feeling in Qatar where the bike spun a bit better and I think it’s a bit like the 2019 chassis.
“So that’s a really positive point and I think it’s already a big step for us.”
Given the poor grip of the Algarve track, Quartararo had concerns last season that he would run into the same problems in 2020 in conditions similar to the M1.
But he was thrilled with his pace on Friday in poor grip conditions. “I’m happy because the bike works well even with bad brains.
“This is something important to us and it also helps us because we know that the Ducatis are high-performance motorcycles.
“With little grip they are a little faster than us. If the grip improves, they are a little better with us.
“Well, I already feel good with the grip as it’s a really big step and I can’t wait to see tomorrow whether the grip is good or not.”
Teammate Maverick Vinales finished seventh after Friday’s race but was puzzled by a total lack of grip in the afternoon compared to FP1 – although he feels that the setup was the main problem rather than a particular weakness of the bike.
“Basically we had a lot of problems with the front tire,” he said.
“I didn’t have good self-confidence, I had a lot of blocking. So I can’t brake, especially in braking areas I have a lot of problems.
“Sure, it’s something that we can improve a lot. Basically, I felt very good in the morning, I felt a lot of grip on the bike.
“But in the afternoon – we don’t know why – I lost that grip, especially at the front.
“So I’ve had a lot of problems so it’s positive to be in the second quarter with problems like that.
“Basically it’s everywhere, so I know we may not have a good set-up on the bike because I have problems everywhere.
“And it has to do with the fact that the track is very different, the conditions are different.
“So we have to work on it, we have to work on finding a better feeling in the front and more stability in the rear because I pumped a lot today and somehow I break the traction a lot and my acceleration is really bad in that area.”