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Petronas Yamaha SRT duo take positives away from Qatar

Quartararo and Morbidelli reflect on the opening weekend of the year

Petronas Yamaha SRT teammate Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli are taking the positives away from the VisitQatar Grand Prix. 

Quartararo had a dramatic start to life in the premier class as the rookie stalled his YZR-M1 machine as the field pulled away for their warm up laps. Unable to restart the bike on the grid, Quartararo was forced to give up his fantastic P5 grid slot for a pitlane start.

Quartararo: "We'll take lots of positives home"

“I made a mistake but okay, it was the first race. I think it’s better that I make a mistake now than in the middle of the championship,” said the Frenchman, reflecting on his Qatar GP. But when Quartararo launched from pitlane, he was by far and away the fastest rider on track in the early stages of the race. And ended the Qatar GP with the fastest lap to his name, despite a P16 finish. 

“It was quite difficult on the first lap because the tyres were really cold, so were the brakes, so on the first lap I was really careful. As soon as I warm up the tyres I say ‘okay, I can’t save the tyres; I need to push hard’. At the end I was struggling a little but I’m happy about the work we’ve done at the test and the work we’ve done over the weekend.

“We leave the negatives here and we’ll take the positives home. The only shame is that the plan was to save the tyres a little at the beginning but from the beginning I was quite high on the pace. So, yes, I’m happy about the work we do over the weekend. We’ve shown some speed but we need to keep focused and learning about the other Grands Prix.”

Overall, what did the 19-year-old learn from his maiden MotoGP™ race?

“First of all, it’s quite difficult to overtake. I think we take a lot of experience, for sure. The result is not the one I wanted but for me, there’s a lot of experience I’ve taken from a different sort of race that we can use but yes, I’m looking forward to the next one.” 

Meanwhile, his Petronas Yamaha SRT teammate, Franco Morbidelli, said his first outing on the Yamaha M1 was a bit of rollercoaster.

The former Moto2™ World Champion dropped from eighth on the grid to thirteenth on the first lap before climbing back up to eighth at half race distance. However, he quickly encountered a lack of rear grip after taking a gamble with his tyre choice.

“I would divide the race into two halves,” said the Brazilian after finishing just outside the top ten in eleventh. “It was a good race in the beginning, I had a bad start unfortunately, but I was able to catch up quite easily and I could stay with the lead group.

“I tried to manage the tyres but unfortunately, I would have to say now, we chose the wrong option. We opted for the soft while everybody else was on the medium. We thought it would be the best option for us. We were also fast with the medium, but I thought that the soft was even better for me. Basically, I went all in and it didn’t pay out.”

Despite suffering similar grip issues to Danilo Petrucci and Joan Mir, both of whom also opted for the soft option, Morbidelli is confident of challenging in South America: “It’s a pity about the race but the speed is there. We were decently strong throughout all of the weekend, so we have to take the good things and bring them to Argentina.” 

Can both Quartararo and Morbidelli build on experience gained in Qatar to put on a good performance in South America? 

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