Quartararo’s season ‘difficult to believe’ - Meregalli| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Five years on from its last title, Monster Energy Yamaha claimed the 2021 MotoGP Championship with Fabio Quartararo.
The celebrations concluded the Frenchman’s debut season with the factory team, after securing a neat set of five victories, five further podiums and five pole positions. In fact Quartararo was only off the front row on four occasions throughout 2021’s 18 races, claiming his second consecutive BMW M Award for fastest qualifier on his way to becoming France’s first MotoGP Champion, at the age of 22.
“You can imagine that we are pleased, satisfied about this season,” Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director, Massimo Meregalli confirmed. “We could get the championship after five years and those five years have been quite tough for us because we had really up and down. We struggle a bit but this year we found the consistency that we missed in the previous year.
“We started a new relationship with a new rider - young and fast. I think when he arrived the atmosphere in the garage also became more young. He brought some happiness into it and he has been able to manage, to be fast, serious and focused during the sessions, but also happy, always available, funny with us and that’s been a really big change.
“But the most important thing, as you can imagine, was that we could achieve the goal we had at the beginning with him. 22 year old rider, first year in a factory team, was difficult to believe that we could really have this strong season.
“I would say probably nine,” Merigalli continued, when asked to rate Quartararo’s season out of 10. “We still have some areas that we have to improve on track. We are still struggling, maybe in places like Aragon, or in a conditions where the practice is half wet, half dry but overall, apart from these two things, I think the score is nine.”
2021’s successes didn’t come as easily as the stats may imply, however. The factory Yamaha outfit lost out to Ducati on both the Manufacturer and Team honours, with the new World Champion putting in the brunt of the work aboard the M1.
The season started on a high with Quartararo winning rounds two and three and his teammate Maverick Viñales claiming the opening victory in Qatar, however, 2021 would prove to be more of a rollercoaster.
A tricky and at times turbulent first half of the year found Yamaha ultimately cutting ties with Vinales in Austria. Test rider Cal Crutchlow was drafted in for three races to bridge the gap while 2022 recruit Franky Morbidelli, who had previously been seen running in Petronas SRT colours, recovered from summer knee surgery. The Italian made the move earlier than planed due to the mid-season upheaval, claiming his factory M1 from his home race in Misano.
“We have probably a double face on the rider point of view,” Meregalli explained on the challenging year.
“Even though we had an extremely positive season with Fabio, we had also an issue during the season with Vinales, where we have been forced to stop the relationship. Then we did some races with Cal as his replacement and then Franky joined us.
“He joined in not perfect physical condition and we are still working with him. His recovery is long and not yet at the end but now if we think about the future, the rider lineup is very good. We are very confident and with them two, we can really have a strong season next year,” he concluded.