I’ve put Yamaha at the top of the 2021 pre-season preparation because they had four riders that were not only fast at Qatar on a one-off lap (especially Viñales and Quartararo) but all Yamaha riders were fast over their long runs. Very impressive.
We’ve seen them testing two chassis, last year’s and this year’s, the new was confirmed as the 1st choice by both the official riders. We’ve seen or had confirmed new swing arms, electronics, a slight change in the front fairing that looks like it has improved top speed and a radical new front fender that I call 'the balding man', as it has the front tyre poking through the top allowing air to flow over it on the way to the radiator. I believe this fender is aimed at improving the front tyre overheating problems that plagued Yamaha in races like Aragon 2020. Other manufacturers have suffered this same problem in recent years so I'm sure they are all watching closely.
I was wondering why were they so fast in Qatar? Their bike isn’t that quick and the straight is long but they make up time through the infield. The Yamaha handles and turns well compared to the V4s, much like the Suzuki does, and this is what I think...
... the grip level was high during the main two days of the test. High grip means the Yamaha can turn well and can carry higher corner speeds. If we see lower grip conditions we could see their advantage slip away.
Also, Qatar is a good track for them historically. I think they’ll be a little nervous about how their 2021 chassis with all the new parts are going to react when it gets to Europe, because that's where the championship will be won or lost.