With Ducati winning six of the eight races at the Red Bull Ring since the Austrian circuit arrived on the MotoGP calendar in 2016, championship leader Quartararo could be in damage limitation mode this weekend.
While he was expected to fight for the win at Silverstone, Quartararo instead found himself stuck in the leading group and unable to make his way forward after taking a long-lap penalty.
The M1 Yamaha has been one of the bikes most affected by the following others as top speed and overheating the front tire have been the two biggest issues this season.
And with the Red Bull Ring being a circuit that’s heavily impacted by top speed, Quartararo could again lose points to Francesco Bagnaia – the Ducati rider has a chance of securing a hat-trick of wins this weekend – but also Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro.
Despite the overtaking problems Quartararo seems to face more often than not, Marquez believes the French rider still has what it takes to make it back-to-back titles.
Speaking about the 2022 championship fight, Marquez told MotoGP.com: “It looks like Pecco [Bagnaia] is going in a good way. In Austria it’s one of his favorite circuits, Misano is also one of his favorites. So Pecco will be at ease and will be one of the main contenders, of course.
“Between Alex [Espargaro] and Fabio [Quartararo] – honestly, Fabio needs help from Yamaha. I saw the race [at Silverstone] and I’m a guy from outside that can see he was riding super fast, but fighting against the others without the speed on the straight is difficult.
“He’s riding in a very good way [when] alone in the practice and if he can lead the race he’s the best guy on the grid right now.
“But as soon as you need to fight it’s difficult to overtake. Aleix with Aprilia is the biggest surprise of the championship I think. Also, now it looks as though Vinales is riding almost so Aprilia increased a lot its level.”
Keith Huewen expects imminent return to MotoGP for Marquez
Although he won’t be competing, Marquez is set to appear at the Austrian Grand Prix this weekend as crunch talks to try and improve Honda’s dire situation are expected to take place.
Honda have again appeared lost this season, but with Marquez nearing full fitness and expected to return to action before the end of the season, it’s no surprise that the eight-time world champion has a keen interest in how things are looking at HRC.
Speaking on the weekly Crash.net MotoGP podcast, ex-Grand Prix racer Huewen stated that Marquez returning to the MotoGP paddock is a big signal of intent.
“He’s doing his homework,” added Huewen. “That’s what I like about Marc [Marquez]. He’s methodical in his work and I think he’s got some questions to ask of Honda.
“He’s got more to ask them than they’ve got to ask him. His bit is pretty simple, he’s either fit or he’s not.
“Judging by what I’m seeing, obviously you can’t get definitive [answers] from anybody but he’s looking pretty good. His return is imminent.”