Crutchlow: The situation is worrying

Qualifying sixth at Assen is of little comfort for Cal Crutchlow, who said his 17th place in FP4 is “the reality.”
Crutchlow: The situation is worrying

Cal Crutchlow has labelled his current predicament “worrying” after the Englishman continued to struggle for front-end feel with the 2019 Honda RC213V and said his 17th place in FP4 “is the reality at the moment.”

The Englishman salvaged a sixth place in Saturday’s qualifying session to ensure a second row start for today’s Dutch Grand Prix. But what was of more concern was the 1.2-second gap to pole sitter Fabio Quartararo around Assen, which has regularly been a happy hunting ground in the past.

“The reality is that as you see in FP4, I was 17th,” said Crutchlow. “And this is the reality at the moment. I just did an average lap in qualifying and made 6th position, the second row, but I nearly crashed in turn four, I nearly crashed in the last chicane.

“But the situation is worrying, to be 1.2 seconds off Quartararo who is a rookie. No offence to Quartararo, because he's riding fantastic, he's a great guy, he's riding very, very well, all credit to him. But me as a rider, I'm not 1.2 seconds off him. And I'm going as fast as my bike will let me go.

“No, because we changed the bike a lot this morning and this afternoon, but the feeling was groundhog day. I have the same problem at each circuit.

“The situation is, in Barcelona when I was fast – Qatar was a different race, Qatar you could take out of it a little bit: the pace was slow at the start and then when it ramped up, and everyone's tyres were on the limit, I was still able to go.

“In Argentina I made a fantastic race but I jumped the start. In Barcelona I made a fantastic race but I had a bad first few laps, and these are circuits where you slide the bike.

“You don't slide the bike here to turn the bike. And it seems we need to slide the bike to turn. And when you have a track with the grip we have here, it becomes more apparent for us that it's difficult.

“But again, like I've reiterated from the start of the season, Honda and my team are fully working as hard as we can, but we can't change tomorrow, we can't change from Barcelona to here.

“There's a lot of things we can make improvements on, I can make changes all week long, but nothing is going to make me have the feeling that I feel I need.

“But on the other had, I still think I can be faster than what I am, as I showed in Barcelona. I was able to fight for the top five, top three. But it's a different style circuit, as I said.”

So he has to steer with the rear to compensate for a lack of front-end feel?

“Absolutely,” he said. “This is the Honda bike, and it has been the Honda bike for many years, but this year I feel worse than previous years. But the bike on acceleration is better than last year, so we have to look at that as a positive, and we have other positive areas as well.

“But the speed advantage on the straight, you gain a tenth, a tenth and a half maybe. I'm not talking here, I'm talking Barcelona which is a long straight. But how many corners are there to go around?

“This is the situation, and I'm giving them the information that I think that they need and that they really understand. And everyone is working really hard, and I'm pleased with the way HRC are working.

“But it's not as simple as just to say, OK, tomorrow we'll have this, or tomorrow suddenly we'll have the feeling that we need.”