After several rounds in the wilderness, Fabio Quartararo looked back to his imperious season-opening Jerez form as he topped Friday practice for the Misano MotoGP.
But the Petronas Yamaha rider later spoke cryptically of “still not being with the full package” and eagerly awaiting “things that we had and we need to have back”.
“We have a really good bike. Not feeling exactly like Jerez. Because we still have some problems let’s say that we need to manage by ourselves,” Quartararo said.
“Honestly, Yamaha is working so hard. We had a little bit of positive news for Misano 1&2 and we know that we have two weeks to cross the fingers to have another great news for Barcelona.
“So I know they are working hard and of course I can’t say that I’m fully confident because we are not with the full package that I want. But it’s important to believe in them, also put a little bit of pressure, but more than pressure we need to have this great news for Barcelona.
“No, it’s not new things [on the bike]. But things that we had and we need to have back.”
Given Yamaha’s series of valve-related engine problems at Jerez, the natural assumption is that measures were taken to reduce the strain on the remaining engines while the issue was investigated.
Some believe Yamaha has lowered the rev limit, pointing to the poor top speed, while others have suggested engine braking was reduced, which might have led to the overheating brakes in Austria.
Whatever it is, Quartararo wasn’t telling.
“I can’t say! It’s confidential. But we need to have this news because it will be important for us…”
Either way, the Frenchman was all smiles after day one in Italy.
“Today was really positive because after struggling for one month and having tough times,” he said. “The track is better suited to our bike. So yes, I’m happy to be back again, not only over one lap, so the pace was so good.
“I wanted to finish first because it’s been such a long time and it’s always a pleasure to see your name on top.
“But also on the pace I finished with 25 laps on the rear and we put the hard front in the second run and made a big improvement.”
As at the Jerez season-openers, Quartararo predicts Factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales currently looks like his biggest opponent.
“Yes for me Maverick is the main rival for this track, really strong,” Quartararo said. “But looks like he used a different tire than us. Front, rear, time attack. So it’s quite funny that with the same bike we use different tires but from when I arrived in MotoGP it’s more-or-less like this.”
The pair also found themselves together during practice, Quartararo squeezing around a slower-moving Vinales onto the back straight. “It was a little bit of fun, nothing dirty,” he said.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, who has closed to within three points of Quartararo, was only eleventh fastest on Friday.
There wasn’t much room there for @FabioQ20!
He squeezes past @mvkoficial12 on the back straight! #SanMarinoGP pic.twitter.com/tp51zlPtne
— MotoGP™ (@MotoGP) September 11, 2020