Petronas SRT Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo described his fourth MotoGP podium as a special one, as the Frenchman beat out both factory Yamaha’s for the final podium spot at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
After qualifying on the front row, the Frenchman benefitted early from mistakes from both Marquez and Dovizioso to lead in the early stages of the race. His lead lasted five laps, before they both came and passed him, before clearing off into the distance.
Despite not having the pace to go with the front two, Quartararo said he was delighted to be able to be at the front of the race, whilst using his head to not get drawn into going with the front two.
“With the team we spoke, and we expect that the first laps we would struggle, but at the end we never expect that we would lead the first five laps,” said the Frenchman.
“We chose the soft tyre and we never really had the experience of making the suggestion of the tyre. Even when I was leading in corner four and five, I was trying to avoid the spinning. Then yes, when Dovi and Marc overtook me I tried to do my best to stay with them, but I was really on the limit, I could stay, but maybe on the last lap my tyre was destroy.
“So I prefer to let them as we knew today then had a better pace than us. But we never expected to be on the podium, so we are really happy.”
When he was passed and subsequently dropped by the front two, fourth placed Valentino Rossi looked as if he had the pace to catch Quartararo and challenge him for the final podium spot. When asked if he was worried about him and Maverick Vinales coming, Quartararo said: “Yes, worst of all because when I was in third Vale was 0.3 I think, so from there I tried to make my pace to try to keep the tyres because we knew that they had a medium.
“But every lap I took one tenth, two tenths until it was two seconds, and we make the gesture between 1.7 and two seconds. So, it was a tough race as I was alone, but we are really happy to finish first Yamaha and on the podium.”
It was Quartararo’s fourth podium in what has been a stunning MotoGP rookie campaign. When asked if this one was different, coming at a circuit where Yamaha usually struggle, Quartararo said it was, but was also focused on what he learned from racing with the fastest men in the world.
“This one is really special, because we arrive here, and we said this track will be the toughest for us,” said Quartararo.
“We know that the bike has a lot of positive points, but it’s true in the top speed we are struggling. So really fighting for the podium in this race is incredible.
“I learn many things today about how to take care of the tyre, and I think today more than the podium, we learn a lot again and for the future we can have again this kind of situation and we managed really well today.”