Quartararo took the 2021 crown at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last week, became France’s first MotoGP world champion and ended Yamaha’s drought that went back to 2015.
The Yamaha rider won five times with two laps left in 2021 and is the only rider to have accumulated points at every Grand Prix to date.
It’s a blatant turn-around from his wildly inconsistent 2020 season, when he won three times but didn’t get any more podiums and moved up from the championship lead to eighth in the last six races.
Quartararo’s 2019 promotion to MotoGP with Petronas SRT has been heavily criticized for having just won his first Moto2 Grand Prix in Barcelona in 2018, but perceptions changed pretty quickly during testing ahead of the 2019 season.
However, Quartararo announced that he felt overwhelmed when he first tested the SRT Yamaha in Valencia in late 2018 – and finished the opening day 2.4 seconds behind the pace.
“When I won the two Spanish championships [in 2013 and 2014], the first step was of course winning a Moto3 World Championship, “said Quartararo after his coronation.
“But I didn’t even get a win. Then I switched to Moto2, I tried to regain my confidence.
“The first year that was not achieved, the second year yes, and we won two races … Okay, one was taken away (his Japan win was taken away due to a technical breach), but I know we are two Won races.
Fabio Quartararo, Petronas Yamaha SRT
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“But I wasn’t expecting to get promoted to MotoGP, so it wasn’t possible to win the Moto2 World Championship.
“The only way to become world champion was through MotoGP. We did it and I never expected that.
“When we did the first test in Valencia in 2018, I said, ‘What the hell am I doing on this bike?’
“I couldn’t ride it [there was] so much power. Right now I’m asking for a lot more. The steps were slow but good.
“On the first day, I was done three seconds [behind], then two seconds, on the last day of Jerez we finished 0.8 seconds [behind].
“Sepang was tough, then we took a big step in Qatar and finished second in the test and from that moment I knew I was fine.
“2019 was good and of course it was a big dream to become world champion and we achieved it.”