MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo does not believe he has turned a corner in 2022, and is sure he will still have more weekends where he will struggle like in some of the early-season flyaways.
After winning at Portimao and challenging for victory at Jerez, Quartararo has established a nine-point lead at the top of the standings, effectively changing the narrative of his title defense so far after a below-par start.
But while Quartararo now looks closer to re-committing to Yamaha despite his ongoing gripe about the lack of top-speed performance from his M1 bike, he is adamant every point will count in his quest to retain a crown he claimed with two races to spare last year
When asked whether he was surprised to be leading the championship given his uneven start to 2022 and the struggles of the other Yamaha riders, he said: “Well, I was more surprised to be leading the championship already last week [after Portimao]because if you check apart from Mandalika it was – I will not say a disaster, but my position was seventh [at COTA]eighth [at Termas]ninth [in Qatar]second [at Mandalika]and then of course the victory.
“We always finish in the top 10, and at the end I think it’s this kind of races that you need to give your best to take three, four, five points more, these points are super important. But to be honest I’m riding to the limit and have no more, in every moment.
“It’s true that the other Yamahas are struggling quite a lot but at the end this is not my problem. I already have enough to think [about] to be fast with our bike, so… I’m looking for myself.”
Quartararo had 106 points after six races last season compared to 89 now – despite his 2021 return including a Jerez race in which a surefire 25 points was turned into just three by a bad case of arm pump.
Asked whether he has now pinpointed the upcoming circuits where he can race conservatively and settle for points, he said: “I don’t need to be conservative. I think I need to give my best all the time I’m on track.
“In Austin I finished seventh and unfortunately I was happy, because I felt I gave my best and I couldn’t do better. Maybe sixth. But I fought exactly the same for seventh than for first and second today.
“I have to be on the limit everywhere because I know some tracks will arrive where I will struggle, and it’s a reality that we will be struggling like the beginning of the year. But I will be on the limit all the time.”
Spanish GP winner Francesco Bagnaia has again established himself as the potential biggest threat to Quartararo, having overcome a muted start to his season to defeat Quartararo at what is traditionally a trademark circuit of the Yamaha rider’s.
And while Bagnaia was just 26 points off Quartararo after six races last year compared to 33 now, it is notable that he has won this early in 2022 – whereas in 2021 it took him until race 13.
Asked by The Race whether this was a concern, Quartararo said: “Well, Pecco basically was super fast last year, but the last part of the year he was unbeatable [winning four of the last six]. Not only for his speed but the way he was riding and everything, was super fast.
“And of course this year he is super fast already before. So, I will not say ‘worried’ but of course he’s one of the fastest of the grid, so it will be a good fight.”
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