The alarming stats revealing vast gulf between Quartararo and Yamaha MotoGP trio

Were it not for Fabio Quartararo's title-worthy efforts at the front, Yamaha would have almost certainly been roughing it at the bottom of the MotoGP pile

Fabio Quartararo - Yamaha Factory Racing, MotoGP, Yamaha M1, 2021

To say Fabio Quartararo has been a heavy anchor for Yamaha in the 2021 MotoGP World Championship is hard to overstate.

The Frenchman has not only eased into his role as a Yamaha Factory rider this year, but he has truly excelled with a series of performances that allayed any fears his crisis of confidence towards the end of 2020 would hang over into 2021.

His efforts have been crucial in covering up a veritable crisis at Yamaha in 2021. Indeed, take him out of the equation and it has been an otherwise disastrous campaign for the Iwata firm.

Quartararo has been the top Yamaha finisher in 12 of the 15 races, winning five of them, though really only one of these - Vinales’ Round 1 win in Qatar - counts on pure performance since the other two occurred when the Frenchman suffered arm pump at Jerez that dropped him out of the lead and down to 13, plus Catalunya when penalties demoted him to sixth behind his team-mate.

Forget Quartararo for a moment and Yamaha’s other highlights are worryingly scant. One win plus another podium for Vinales, together with a single podium for a hampered Morbidelli are the only obvious headlines. Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi languishes last of the full-time riders in the standings for his swansong campaign… 

Seeing just a single Yamaha in Q2 is now a regular occurrence and while Yamaha’s seismic rotation of riders since the end of the summer break are an obvious justification, it’s truly alarming to note that just 15 points have been amassed between three M1s over the last six grands prix. To put into context, Quartararo alone has achieved 98

Remarkably, Yamaha is still in contention for the coveted ‘Triple Crown’ on the strength of Quartararo alone. 

With three rounds remaining, Quartararo comes to the upcoming Emilia Romagna MotoGP with clear ‘match point’, provided he doesn’t allow Pecco Bagnaia to reduce the current 52 point margin to anything less than 51 points.

However, despite the gulf in odds between Quartararo and Bagnaia, Ducati has nosed ahead in the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ reckoning, holding a two and ten point advantage over Yamaha Factory Racing as it stands.

The momentum is with Ducati’s comparative embarrassment of riches when it comes to quality performers. Beyond Bagnaia and Miller on the factory bikes, Ducati can also rely on Pramac Racing’s race-winning Jorge Martin and podium winner Johann Zarco, while even Avintia Ducati’s Enea Bastianini has shown he can play his part in recent races.

By contrast, while Pramac Racing sits fourth overall in the Teams’ standings, the Yamaha Petronas SRT satellite effort sits bottom of the 11 teams with just a single podium to its name in 2021 having won six races in 2020.

Riding the Yamaha MotoGP merry-go-round

Yamaha’s carousel of riders - seven different riders between three seats - during the middle portion of the year can be blamed for this of course, but it’s not solely responsible.

Rossi’s form is a glaring issue, while the Vinales affair was preceded by wildly sporadic bursts of form and slumps. Meanwhile, Morbidelli was lumbered with the 2019-spec M1 and has been injured, but his transition to the factory M1 on his return has been rather disappointing.

Then there is Cal Crutchlow’s unexpected call up during which he skipped between two teams, the steady first laps of Andrea Dovizioso’s MotoGP comeback, plus the obvious limitations of throwing debutants Garrett Gerloff and Jake Dixon in at the deep end.

The fact Yamaha remains in the hunt for the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ standings is testament to the efforts of Quartararo, who has not only kept Yamaha in the fight at the top but subsequently stopped it from slumping right to the bottom.

Perhaps it is no wonder that Yamaha MotoGP boss Lin Jarvis doesn’t rate Yamaha’s chances of the Triple Crown highly, a particularly galling occurrence given it was prevented from winning in 2020 over a punished error regarding engine modification.

“We lost the constructors' championship last year because we made a mistake with the engines,  ” Jarvis told Speedweek. “This year we have a chance for the 'Triple Crown', but it's very difficult, to be honest. Look at Ducati: you have Miller and Bagnaia. 

“That's why it's going to be difficult for us in the Teams’ World Championship. Regarding the title of the manufacturer, everything depends on Fabio. It was only at the first Grand Prix in Qatar that he was not the best Yamaha rider because Maverick won there.

“We lost a lot of races in the Maverick Viñales affair . We lost the Sachsenring Grand Prix because Maverick had a very bad result there. Then we lost the Styrian Grand Prix with what happened, and that's why he was suspended for the Austrian Grand Prix. Then came the split and there was Cal Crutchlow at Silverstone and Aragón as a replacement rider in the works team… ”.

“We have therefore lost four or more races and therefore a lot of precious points for the brand and the team championships. Fabio's new teammates haven't collected any points so far. Of course, a replacement rider is never as competitive as a regular driver because the quality of the drivers on the grid is extremely high today.”

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