Yamaha apologises, lays out MotoGP future to retain Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo is closing to signing a new deal with Yamaha that will keep him in the factory team for the 2023 and 2024 MotoGP World Championship seasons

Fabio Quartararo - Yamaha Factory Racing

Fabio Quartararo is understood to be close to penning a new MotoGP contract with Yamaha after receiving assurances from the manufacturer over future bike development.

The Frenchman, who made his MotoGP debut on the satellite Petronas SRT Yamaha, went on to clinch the 2021 MotoGP World Championship in his first year as a factory racer, the Japanese firm’s first title winner since Jorge Lorenzo in 2015.

However, after Quartararo aired concerns about Yamaha’s slip in competitiveness towards the end of the last season, indifferent results during the opening rounds of 2022 raised speculation the Frenchman would consider alternative options.

Key to Quartararo’s concern is the Yamaha’s top speed deficit compared with its rivals, an issue that puts him under pressure to qualify strongly or risk getting beaten up in the pack during races, as was evidence in Argentina and the USA. 

However, after his runaway win in Portimao, relations between the two parties have reportedly eased and Quartararo is prepared to pen a new deal provided Yamaha provides assurances it will address his concerns with development.

“Fabio will not sign with us on the basis of this year's package. It will be about whether he has confidence in our package for 2023 and 2024,” Lin Jarvis told Speedweek..

“We were very open and honest with him. We apologised to him for the difficulties we caused him this year and which are still there.

“We have explained what our plan is for the future… I feel Fabio understands that we will come back with the strongest possible package and with an investment that will make all the difference next year.”

While Jarvis emphasises Quartararo is yet to sign on the dotted line, he is confident an agreement will be reached by June.

“I think we will come to an agreement with Fabio, also on the financial aspect. I believe that. I'm confident about that now,” Jarvis said.

“I expect the collaboration with Fabio Quartararo to continue for the next two years.

“At the same time, I would like to emphasise that we are not yet close to signing a contract. There are still some details to be discussed. But I am confident that we can go public with good news in June.”

Relief for Yamaha as it eases MotoGP dilemma

While it’s not surprising Yamaha has worked hard to convince Quartararo to stay, it is significant it is prepared to adopt a change in philosophy to retain him.

Quartararo’s gripes aren’t unfamiliar to Yamaha, with Maverick Vinales and even Valentino Rossi trying - and failing - to bring engineers round to their way of thinking in order to extract more straight-line speed from the M1.

However, Yamaha is currently very reliant on Quartararo for results. After the ructions caused by Maverick Vinales’s premature exit from the team in 2021, his replacement Franco Morbidelli has endured a torrid time on his return from injury and has barely featured in the top ten so far this season.

It means any Quartararo exit could leave Yamaha exposed for 2023, but the manufacturer has benefited from the lack of a clear thread being established this season so far, buying it time to get around the negotiation table with the Frenchman.

Indeed, though Honda had reportedly shown an interest, such a move would result in Quartararo taking a risk to be team-mate to Marc Marquez on a bike that too hasn’t shown consistent competitiveness.

Quartararo’s deal would also likely be the domino that knocks everything into place for 2023 with Suzuki set to retain Joan Mir and Alex Rins, while Honda will also probably keep the status quo with Marquez and Pol Espargaro, and Ducati will shuffle its line-up internally. Together with Aprilia expected to retain Aleix Espargaro and Vinales, only KTM - which has penned Brad Binder on a long-term deal - could have a factory seat up for grabs if it drops Miguel Oliveira.