Fabio Quartararo will still be driving an official Yamaha in 2023 and 2024. Behind the scenes in the paddock, for a few months, it was his manager, Eric Mahé, who led the negotiations to make sure he had a high-performance motorcycle. Details event history exclusively in GP-Inside.
GP Inside: How were the negotiations for Fabio’s new contract with Yamaha?
Eric Mahe: “For the negotiations to be good, both parties must have an interest in working together, which was quite evident for Yamaha who wanted to keep Fabio as he is world champion and is, by far, his best rider. So we started talking about the future last November, knowing that we didn’t want to rush and that our desire was to continue together, but concretizing a certain number of points for 2023 and 2024. Then, at the end of January, we find out. that for a concern of development, the engine of 2022 would be the same as in 2021, which made a chill as we found it difficult to repeat last year’s performance with the same engine performance. And since our goal is to win as many races as possible and be world champion as many times as possible, we started thinking about evaluating other possibilities. »
“Then the ball was next to Yamaha to find a solution. And we need tangible elements to have confidence in the future. So we did a lot of technical meetings. Yamaha told us about its future projects, in particular the incorporation of an external engine supplier (Yamaha has hired Luca Marmorini, former F1 engineer for Ferrari and Aprilia, editor’s note). This approach reassured us and we were able to resume discussions to determine Fabio’s future. »
“These days, the gaps in the grid are tiny, everything is decided in the nearest tenth of a second. You can’t win if you lose a tenth or two in a round, and our Japanese interlocutors know that. It is not an admission of weakness as it cannot be said that the bike is bad when you are world champion and at the top of the current championship, it is more a test of open-mindedness to anticipate the future and this is the reaction that we have. expected. Today, the situation is delicate if Fabio does not start in front because it is impossible to move forward, not even keep the streak straight. And being too long in the suction makes you stay in the “hot” air, which increases the pressure of the front tires and interrupts the braking and cornering phases … Then, when Fabio takes the lead from the beginning as it did in Portimao or Barcelona, it happens. Therefore, it was essential to have a solution to improve engine power and this is what will be done next year. »
Have you had discussions with other builders?
EM: “My job is to offer several options and since I’ve been in the paddock, I’ve had good relationships with everyone who makes decisions. So which team would be interested in a 23-year-old world champion who is constantly improving, who has a good face and who is friendly? Fabio is an exceptional rider who falls very little because he has an innate perception of the bike. He manages to feel the limit without exceeding it, which is essential to add points to each race. »
“I also think that what makes him strong, among other things, is that he didn’t have a career as a ‘golden boy’, like Rossi or Márquez. We must not forget that before coming to MotoGP he had three difficult years where he had to know how to question himself, find a way to improve and still learn. It still has room for improvement even though it is already ultra efficient. It is this ability to find solutions that allows him to lead the championship today and face what he has, where the other Yamaha riders fight to add points to each GP. »
“He has so much speed when cornering that he manages to minimize his motor handicap in a straight line. On the other hand, it is more complicated with a slow turn at the beginning of the straight, as in Le Mans at the exit of the Garage Vert, or in Austin where you lost a few tenths per lap. But despite these technical difficulties, Fabio wins races and leads the championship, so his merit is even greater. All in all, it’s even more rewarding that if you had the best engine on set and in the media, the repercussion is even stronger. »
Do you think that the title can be missed?
EM: “We are barely halfway through the championship, the road is still long but we know that Fabio has already made an exceptional first half, where his main opponents were less brilliant in making mistakes that cost them dearly. In fact, it was mostly Bastianini who was scared with his three victories, but we saw that he was capable of the best and the worst. As for Espargaro, he is doing great things with Aprilia and has a lot of experience, but I am not convinced that he will be able to control the pressure until the end. We’ll see, we focus on our work and in the end we’ll do the math. »
As Quartararo returned to be the head