Quartararo: Honda pace "amazing", not expecting more power in Qatar

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo is wary of all four Honda riders' speed ahead of the 2022 MotoGP beginning this weekend in Qatar.

Marc Marquez, Fabio Quartararo - Honda, Yamaha

2021 MotoGP World Champion, Fabio Quartararo, has said that he believes Honda’s pace is “amazing” following preseason testing in an interview released by Crash.net.

HRC have struggled in the last two seasons in MotoGP. With star rider eight-times World Champion Marc Marquez missing for essentially all of 2020, and some of 2021, the problems Honda had with its nervous RC213V became uncovered. 

Whereas Marquez had the ability until the closing stages of the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix to ignore the issues of Honda’s MotoGP machine, the likes of Alex Marquez, Stefan Bradl, Takaaki Nakagami, Cal Crutchlow and, from last year, Pol Espargaro, lacked that capability. 

Although Marquez won three races in 2021, including at an unfavoured Misano, he finished on the podium only one other time - when he finished second to Francesco Bagnaia in Aragon - hinting at the almost bipolar nature of the RC213V where it would either work really well, or be almost unrideable, depending on tyre compound, track temperature or myriad other factors. 

Pol Espargaro epitomised this, fighting for the podium in Silverstone last year - where the temperature was cold and the grip was high - but managing only 13th in a warmer Aragon two weeks later. 

For 2022, Honda has sought to address the issues with their premier class Grand Prix bike, by shifting the weight balance further towards the rear in the hope of finding more rear grip - a vital element of modern, Michelin-era MotoGP racing. The hope is that by finding rear grip, the riders won’t have to push so hard on the front in the braking zones because the acceleration from the previous corner will be more equal with their competitors, and in the braking zone itself the rider will be able to use the rear tyre - and rear brake - to stop more efficiently.

Crash.net reported that Quartararo said of the HRC riders, “the pace is amazing.” He added, “the four Hondas are really fast. And you can see the bike is working in a different way.” The Yamaha rider also noted the how comfortable Marc Marquez seemed to be breaking on the edge of the tyre, and how the bike continues to stop and turn, even when sliding. 

The comments by Quartararo will only add to the intrigue surrounding him and his future with Yamaha, and a possible, rumoured move to Honda. Quartararo has made no secret of his disappointment with the development of the YZR-M1 over the winter, particularly with the power of the engine - a particular weak point for several years now - saying “for three months we haven’t received something special. [Before Qatar] I will not expect something amazing.”

Could the positive signs Quartararo has seen from Honda, the development he has seen in the RC213V over the winter, and the relative comfort with which he sees HRC’s riders making competitive lap times further tempt Quartararo to confirm a switch to Honda for 2023?