Quartararo wanted "to be sure" about Yamaha MotoGP contract extension

Fabio Quartararo has been announced as staying with the factory Yamaha MotoGP team for 2023 and 2024, but the rider who will be alongside him remains unclear.

Fabio Quartararo announces contract extension with Yamaha for 2023 and 2024. - Yamaha MotoGP

Following the announcement of his contract extension with Yamaha’s factory MotoGP team for 2023 and 2024, Fabio Quartararo offered his thoughts on the renewal.
“I am really happy to announce to all of you that I will stay with Yamaha for two more years,” Quartararo said.

His time with Yamaha has not been straightforward, though, and that was reflected in his hesitation in re-signing with the Iwata brand. “In the past, moving up to MotoGP with Yamaha and later to the Factory team were no-brainers,” the reigning MotoGP World Champion said. “Yamaha believed in me from the very beginning, and that is something I do not take lightly. But that being said, this new agreement was a big decision. I'm at a great point in my career, so I took a bit more time taking this decision to be sure.”

Quartararo won the 2021 MotoGP World Championship in blue, but he did so in a year when the factory Yamaha team lost its other rider in Maverick Vinales, and when Franco Morbidelli came to replace him, but was never fit enough to be competitive. Morbidelli’s competitiveness continues to be an issue, and the satellite team, WithU RNF, has been uncompetitive, too, in 2022, with neither Darryn Binder nor Andrea Dovizioso able to trouble the top positions. 

Yamaha’s issues with its MotoGP bike are significant. It does not use the Michelin tyres correctly, it is not fast enough in the straights, it does not have enough rear grip, and its ride height device is unrefined, which means it over-stresses the front tyre in braking. Currently, Quartararo is the only rider capable of finding lap time with the YZR-M1, but he needed assurances about the project going forwards in order to give Yamaha his signature for the next two years. 

He said: “I believe in the Yamaha MotoGP project, and I feel Yamaha are truly motivated. And now that we have officially confirmed our decision to continue on this path together, we can fully focus on the current season.

“I want to say ‘Thanks!’ to the people around me, who always help me and support me, as well as to the fans who are cheering me on. I really do appreciate all the support.”

We now await news of Quartararo’s teammate for the next two seasons. Franco Morbidelli has been disappointing in 2022, but Toprak Razgatlioglu looks as though he will stay in WorldSBK, and the other options for Yamaha are limited. Additionally, without a satellite team in 2023, they have nowhere to shuffle Morbidelli if they wanted to make space in the factory team for someone they thought might be able to be more competitive, meaning forcing him out would be more complicated. 

Alex Rins remains an option for them, and it is also notable that Raul Fernandez is showing very little interest in even trying to be competitive with KTM. Fernandez was seeking a Yamaha move for this season, so perhaps that could be on the cards for 2023. Otherwise, Miguel Oliveira could be open for next season, as he has proven to be uncontent with the Tech 3 seat he was offered for 2023 by KTM.