Quartararo heads into the new season on the back of Yamaha’s first winless MotoGP campaign in two decades, as the Iwata marque lost more ground to its European rivals in the development race last year.
Quartararo had previously given a lukewarm review when he got to sample his 2024 prototype at Valencia last year, having felt that the improvements he made on aerodynamics were undermined by a lack of progress on the engine side.
The Frenchman’s assessment wasn’t very different when he was among the select few race riders to test a 2024 bike at the Sepang circuit last week, part of MotoGP’s new system of concessions that currently benefits Yamaha and Honda.
While admitting that there is scope to make significant strides, the 2021 champion suggested his feeling on the Yamaha M1 wasn’t any better than what it was last year, when he could score just three podium finishes in 20 grands prix.
“At the moment I don’t really feel better,” he said. “I feel the potential is there.
“From lap 21 we didn’t make a time attack, but we did of course with new tires. We have pushed at our 100%.
“And from lap 22, Day 1, I made 58.5 so it’s already quite fast. Now we have to, during these three days, step up in the time attack, that is already under plan to be better.
“The most important [part of the race weekend] is Friday afternoon. To be already in the top 10 on Friday afternoon, 70% of the job is done.
“And then of course for qualifying I think we have to find a solution on my riding style and my bike, I think it’s not only on one side, and we are gonna find it.”
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
A lack of engine grunt has been Yamaha’s biggest weakness in MotoGP in the last few years, making it difficult for Quartararo to make progress through the field whenever he failed to qualify near the front.
The Frenchman feels Yamaha needs to make progress on the electronics side to get more performance out of the M1’s engine, describing the power delivery of the current package as “pretty aggressive”.
He said: “I’m sure [the engine is] better. But I think we have to work a lot on the electronics to improve the character of the engine because it is still pretty aggressive and we have to…we have the potential but we are not using it.
“So I think with the electronics we are a little bit far away, not only in the development of the engine, but we have to find the best electronics for this engine and use it on our bike.”
2024 marks the final season of Quartararo’s two-year contract with Yamaha and he has previously made it clear that the Japanese manufacturer has a limited amount of time at its disposal to convince him to stay for another term.
But the Frenchman was coy when asked again about his future at Sepang, saying no decision has been made regarding where he will be racing in 2025.
“We have to be clever,” he said. “I’m 100% focused on the job. I think they are doing big steps compared to the previous years.
“So, of course, for my future I will have to take my time. Okay, of course, I think it’s going to be a really important move, I would say.”
The new season will begin on 10 March in Qatar following another pre-season test at the Losail circuit.