Fabio Quartararo did not manage to finish on the podium in front of his home crowd at Le Mans, despite a race pace that could, on paper at least, give him hope of finishing higher. But the Yamaha rider missed his start, and paid for it throughout the 27 laps of this GP of France, unable to overtake, in particular a particularly tenacious Aleix Espargaró at the end of the course.
The Niçois, still leader of the championship at the end of this seventh round of the season, returned to his performance after the race by answering questions from journalists. We transcribe here all of his remarks, the second part of which, in familiarity, corresponds to the questions formulated by the French media.
Fabio, you spent the last part of the race behind Aleix Espargaró, without however managing to overtake him. Was it because of the condition of your front tyre, or its better acceleration out of corners?
” What must be said at the outset is that Aleix was fast the whole race. I just couldn’t overtake him, but that didn’t just affect the final laps, but the race as a whole. We weren’t able to overtake, and we only owe our final position to the mistakes of the other drivers. There were three crashes in front of me, and Marc Márquez went wide at one point which gave me the opportunity to pass him. In fact, I did not overtake on my own in this race. I was good in turns 3 and 9, but on the straights I really lost too much time. The problem is that as soon as you make a mistake at the start, your race is finished. »
How did you feel in the race today?
” My feelings today weren’t too bad, but they weren’t good either. Today I could have been much faster in terms of pace, but I had no possibility to overtake. When Joan Mir made a mistake in the last corner, Aleix blocked the front a little and I was able to pick up straight away. But the fact is that I lost several meters in a straight line, and that I can’t recover in a turn. This circuit is composed for the most part of phases of braking then acceleration, and it is for this reason that I was not able to overtake. »
Don’t you think it has to do with the fact that all the drivers are very aggressive at the start and in the first laps?
” Not at all. Everyone is aggressive in the first lap because everyone wants to be in first position. But on some tracks we are able to overtake, but here it was not the case. »
Are you satisfied with your result of the day, or just lucky to have been able to benefit from the vagaries of the race ahead of you?
” I am not at all happy with my race. I’ve had three crashes ahead of me, and my actual position is actually much further back. It’s not a question of pace, because if you look at free practice we had the best here, but during the event if you are in a position where you are not able to pass or benefit from a track cleared in front of you, it’s over. In fact I’m not even angry, because it’s a situation I’m starting to get used to this year. What is certain is that I always give 100%, and there is not a moment when I am not at the fullest. At the end of the race I almost lost the front in a bend and Aleix was able to regain half a second, but in the space of a handful of bends I managed to absorb this delay, so in terms of speed we were very fast, but it just wasn’t possible to overtake. »
You are still leading the Drivers’ World Championship, but Aleix is only four points away, while Enea Bastianini has come back well today thanks to his victory, and is only eight points behind you. . Who do you consider your main opponent for the rest of the season?
” I would say Pecco Bagnaia because he was once again the fastest here, and if he hadn’t crashed the situation would be completely different. I can also mention Enea, because he’s the only guy to have won more than one race this year. He is the strong man of the moment, even if he encounters difficulties in certain races. He is still the most consistent driver at the front. When he has the right pace, he can manage his tires perfectly and get the best possible result. »
Do you think that with your overtaking problems you are still the favorite for the title?
” I’m really not the favorite. The only thing I can do is make no mistake. If I don’t do any, we can be in the game, because our pace is good on all the circuits we go to. If you take Jerez I was the fastest with Pecco, and the same here, but the fact is that as soon as you make the slightest mistake, you pay dearly for it. I remember that last year Pecco qualified 11th in the first event in Portimão, and he was able to make several overtaking [le pilote Ducati avait alors fini à la deuxième place en course]and during the second race last year in Portugal I was in the same situation, and I had not managed to go up [sic, Quartararo s’était qualifié en septième position au GP d’Algarve, et avait chuté en course]. Frankly, I don’t know what more I can do, because I’m at the limit everywhere, but I can’t do anything because as soon as the others go back on the gas when exiting a corner, they slip away. It is for this reason that I do not consider myself the favorite this year. »
So did you have any pressure issues in the front tire during the race?
” A little, but it wasn’t a big deal. I definitely felt that the pressure had increased, but this is a track where that is not a big problem. If I couldn’t pass, it wasn’t because of my front tire pressure. »
We feel frustrated, did you have difficulty making the difference today with your bike?
” It’s not a question of making a difference, but rather of succeeding in creating opportunities to excel. For example Takaaki Nakagami passed me on the straight and I was able to catch him immediately in the third corner, but that’s because he had just passed me and I was really right behind him. But as soon as a driver finds himself five or ten meters in front of me, it’s impossible to try anything because everyone brakes late. We are in the MotoGP world championship, and we cannot do much more. »
What is your state of mind at the end of this race? A very big disappointment?
” I can’t say that, because we were the fastest all weekend, but the fact is that it only takes one small mistake to spoil your final race result. It’s more frustration than disappointment, because in the end I’m not even upset because it’s a situation I’m getting used to: I’m getting used to not having the right to error. It’s all experience gained, and of course these are not good times to pass, but that’s how it is and we’ll have to be stronger. »
We actually saw that here you were the fastest during the race. Does this mean that 50% of the result at the finish is decided at the start, and that if you’re not in front from the outset you can’t expect anything concrete under the checkered flag?
” It’s very complicated. I would say for some riders it’s 50-50, but for me it’s more like 90-10. I have no room for error at the start, we saw it today: I certainly finished fourth, but three drivers in front of me fell, and Marc Márquez made a mistake in front me. My intrinsic result is therefore closer to an eighth position. It’s very difficult for us to make an overtake, and I haven’t done one in the whole race, and I would even say that I can’t have fun in the race, I can’t find the pleasure that I can feel during the tests. »
What happened at the start?
” No idea, I don’t know. Of course with the holeshot device we couldn’t start as usual on the front, but for all that I didn’t have the feeling of having missed my start. »
The two circuits that arrive [le Mugello et la Catalogne] are rather fast circuits, and therefore favorable to Ducati. But we shouldn’t rule out Yamaha either, if we go by the results of last year, where you won in Italy and for a long time played for the win in Spain. Finally, is it more complicated for you on typical stop-and-go circuits like here at Le Mans, or rather on tracks like Barcelona?
” At Mugello it’s going to be tough, because last year it was a different situation. It’s going to take some crazy qualifying, but I know the Ducati have taken a big step forward. I also know that there I often manage to make the difference and that I am very fast on this circuit, so the idea will be to do very good qualifying, a very good start and a very good first lap. No mistake should be made. In Barcelona I think it will be a bit better because it’s a bit more technical circuit with a bit more corners. The grip is certainly not exceptional there, but there is also a strong degradation of the tires, so in any case we cannot take full advantage of the grip available to us throughout the race. »
The only satisfactions of the weekend are finally the reception of the French public, as always exceptional, as well as your classification in the championship, where you always occupy the first place…
” I don’t even know how I manage to stay at the top of the rankings, because we really have difficulties. It’s true that the most beautiful thing this weekend was to see all these fans present from Thursday, to see them really support us. »
MotoGP French Grand Prix – Race results:
Classification credit: MotoGP.com
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