MotoGP technique: In the absence of power, Yamaha is working hard to find solutions

The first part of Yamaha’s 2022 season has been strange: they started the season with a prototype whose development seemed to have fallen behind. At the moment, in the general classification, Fabio Quartararo is in the lead and therefore in a good position to keep a scepter acquired last year. But he’s fighting with his back against the wall, alone against everyone, and with an M1 that’s a precision weapon that only works in his hands, while the rest of the manufacturers have developed prototypes this winter that are faster than his shadow. But as the year progressed, the French driver still managed to take the M1 to new heights. What’s more confusing is that the other three riders in Iwata’s brand can’t even come close to Fabio’s level.

During pre-season testing, Yamaha’s technical teams offered their riders an improved chassis, compared to last season. In fact, it was first seen at the Jerez test at the end of last season. The area that changed was the clipped area on the main beam. That upper trim line had been changed, but when riders tried it, they said they didn’t feel the big step forward they expected.

Yamaha had obviously already anticipated this, and in this photo we can see the chassis they brought as a possible extra step.

Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli tried it, but their feedback was less than enthusiastic, as both felt it was generally too stiff and not the steering they needed.

Ultimately what happened is that Yamaha went back to their 2021 chassis and that’s what the riders have run so far in 2022. That’s not necessarily a step backwards, it just shows that the chassis for the season 2021 was of a good enough level. that Yamaha’s technical teams needed a little more time to understand and improve it.

One of the big things Yamaha riders have complained about is the lack of top speed. While Yamaha brought a new and more powerful engine, all riders said it wasn’t enough and they needed more. So with its engine version frozen for the year, Yamaha improved in other ways, and one of them was exploring the aerodynamic side.

They brought an aerodynamic evolution for the first time in several seasons and was the biggest Iwata teams had ever designed. More downforce certainly helped them in tight, twisty areas, but made them even more vulnerable on the straights. To counteract this, they brought another aerodynamic evolution.

So, its latest evolution is very similar to last year but, if you look more closely, the fins are slightly different. Gone was the large chin protruding in front of the air intake and the new side fins had also fallen off. Franco Morbidelli used it at Mugello, but after also testing it in free practice Fabio Quartararo decided not to use it and used the bigger package. He preferred the feel it gave in corners, but also on corner exit.

Speaking of corner exit, no fewer than 3 out of 4 Yamaha riders say the Yamaha’s biggest problem is rear grip. However, Fabio Quartararo says the bike still has grip at the rear, it just takes a little time to find it, and the World Champion says the biggest weakness is its lack of speed.

Yamaha has a new swingarm and we’ve recently seen Fabio Quartararo take advantage of it and win races. It’s a pretty major overhaul of the classic rocker, which they’ve been using for several seasons. This is the first major evolution from Yamaha’s technical teams, allowing them to try and solve the grip problem at the rear and, at least for Fabio Quartararo, it seems to be working.

We have also seen Franco Morbidelli use it but not as much so far.

This is not the only evolution of the swingarm that has been tested on the M1: a carbon version has also been offered to the brand’s drivers in tune. Franco Morbidelli put Yamaha’s first swingarm to good use as he finished second in the world in 2020, riding his 2019 M1 with a carbon swingarm. He was the only Yamaha rider who used it regularly, so maybe if he likes this new one he could give him the key he needs. However, since testing it at the Barcelona Test, we haven’t seen him use it since, opting instead to explore the rocker in the photo above.

So Yamaha’s start to the 2022 season is odd to say the least: they started the season with a glaring power deficit, suggesting they were going to struggle, and that’s clearly what happened. His early races weren’t the most promising, but then Fabio Quartararo seemed to find a base of adjustments that worked. However, he is the only one who can put this M1 on top at the moment and so this is a real concern for Yamaha. Will the technical teams respond to the wishes of the only driver who can take his prototype to the top, or will they follow the requests of the other 3 drivers asking for the same? Only the future will tell!

Photos: Dorna Sports

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