Quartararo stormed to his second-successive race win in 2021 by 4.8 seconds at the Algarve International Circuit to open up a 15-point lead in the championship after three rounds.
Quartararo made a similarly strong start to his 2020 campaign, but was a lowly 14th at the Algarve track last season after the Portuguese venue proved to be one of Yamaha’s weakest.
Admitting pre-season he was wary about the low-grip Algarve track causing the Yamaha to suffer its usual issues in those conditions, Quartararo was strong across the entire Portimao weekend.
“Yes, I honestly feel like it [I did in] 2019,” Quartararo said. “The bike is working so well and I have the same [bike as Qatar].
“We didn’t touch the bike. We arrived here, it’s exactly the same bike as Qatar, [only] changing a few things. But we never asked ourselves ‘should we try this’. And 2019 was like this and you can see the difference between Qatar and here, it’s totally different tracks.
“So that means the bike is going so well and I’m pretty sure the bike will work in all the tracks this year. Maybe we will struggle for sure, but I think the bike will go well in all tracks.”
Quartararo says one of the biggest differences between this year’s Portugal race and the 2020 edition is his mental space, admitting he feels “like I am totally different” now.
“When you win the first two races in a row with advantage of four seconds, you feel that it’s going to start and keep going,” Quartararo explained.
“But the other ones are working so hard to go over you, to take that place. And actually now I’m just thinking race by race. At Jerez [last year] I was like ‘wow, we are first in the championship’.
“I’d never been in that position ever and was strange for me. So, that’s why right now I’m even not looking at the championship.
“I’m just thinking about the next race, and even during the pre-season I worked pretty well with my psychologist and I feel like all the exercises he gave to me were good at keeping me calm.”
Quartararo ran a searing pace on his way to victory, having to absorb immense pressure from Suzuki’s Alex Rins before he crashed out seven laps from the finish.
He admitted this pace was “unexpected”, adding: “I think we did more 1m39s than 1m40s, and actually the pace was so strong.
“Here with our bike we feel a lot of the fuel going down and in the middle of the race the pace was amazing.
“I knew we had a little bit extra pace from Alex, he was riding so fast, 0.2s [behind] always.
“He made a mistake, but honestly the pace that we set today was unexpected for myself but feels great to enjoy that track a lot.”
Quartararo joined the KTMs and his fellow Yamaha riders in running the hard rear tyre, explaining his decision was motivated by having a better feeling on the right of that compound compared to the medium.