Fabio Quartararo on rookie MotoGP season: Team 9/10… 8/10 for myself

Fabio Quartararo rates his spectacular 2019 MotoGP World Championship season as he looks ahead towards building on his results in 2020

Fabio Quartararo - Petronas SRT Yamaha

While many would rate Fabio Quartararo’s headline-grabbing rookie season in the MotoGP World Championship as a well-deserved 10 out of 10, the man himself is rather more cynical about his own achievements.

Relatively little-known before he penned a deal to move from Moto2 – where his victory tally stood at a modest single win over two seasons – Quartararo quickly found his form on the Petronas SRT Yamaha M1.

Scoring a shock pole position at Jerez in only his fourth MotoGP event, the performance was a prelude for what was to come as he went on to notch up six ‘Saturday wins’ and seven podium finishes en route to fifth in the overall standings – only 19 points shy of the top three.

Though he missed out on a win, he came remarkably close in Misano and Buriram, with only an ‘on top of his game’ Marc Marquez able to deny him on the final lap.

However, while Quartararo accepts it was an ‘amazing’ rookie season, he was somewhat more modest when asked to rate it.

“We did an amazing season this year, so maybe eight,” he explained in Q&A through his Malaysian-backed team. “The two missing are because of my mistakes - but I needed to make them to learn for the future. It’s important to not over-analyse the year, but it’s also true that there were some races where we could have done a better job, like in Australia or Silverstone.

"I made mistakes, but that’s part of the job and I learned from them. The highlight of the year was definitely pole position in Jerez; it was the first time I ever topped a session in MotoGP and it was for pole position!”

Quartararo was more forgiving of the team itself, rating them 9/10.

“The role of the team was to teach me at the start of the year, and every single person in the squad has helped me in some way. Everyone did a top job - their season is a nine out of ten, only because everyone can always find a way to improve themselves.

Fabio Quartararo modesty belies superb rookie MotoGP season

Despite his modesty, as far as rookie campaigns go, it’s hard to see where Quartararo could have possibly done any better.

While statistically Marc Marquez’s spectacular title-winning rookie season is going to be tough to beat, Quartararo didn’t come to MotoGP with any prior experience and without the coddled management, direction and data available to his rival as he rose through the ranks with Repsol Honda protecting his every move.

The fact Quartararo ended his rookie season as arguably Marquez’s most convincing rival when the Spaniard is riding simply better than ever is testament to his exceptional performances.

As well as the poles and the podiums, there are other noteworthy statistics that highlight just how unexpected Quartararo’s arrival in MotoGP has been.

He didn’t suffer a single crash until Round 6 at the Circuit de Catalunya – and that is including pre-season testing and all practice sessions. He crashed out of just three races this season.

He was also magical over a single lap. In all, he topped 29 timed sessions in 2019 (the four FP sessions, Q2 and warm-up), second only to Marquez who topped 43 sessions.

While Quartararo grabbed the limelight, it shouldn’t be forgotten the role of the Petronas SRT Yamaha team, which deserves immense credit for its performance in what is its first season. New from the ground up, though certainly very well-backed by Sepang and Petronas, it was still quite the achievement in itself.

With a latest specification Yamaha waiting in the wings for him in 2020, while Quartararo will shed much of the underdog tag he clearly relished in 2019, there is clearly room for improvement on an already very complete package.