MotoGP technique Interview with engineer Mario Manganelli: Yamaha with a V4? That’s what it would take.

Engineer Mario Manganelli (ex Oral, KTM, Aprilia and Mercedes F1) explains what Yamaha would have to do to switch to the V4 engine, as well as the amount of work involved.

By Matteo Bellan /

The negotiation for the renewal of the contract of Fabio Quartararo with Yamaha it wasn’t just about money. It is true that the reigning MotoGP champion asked for a significant salary, but above all he demanded technical guarantees for the future. Translation: He wants a better engine.

For months, his manager Eric Mahe and the management of the team were in talks, and finally came the signing of the new two-year contract. The Iwata manufacturer has pledged to work more intensively on the engine side of the bike and has recruited important new technical figures in the engine department for this purpose. Between them, Luca Marmorini, an engineer with a well-known past in Formula 1 with Ferrari and also in MotoGP with Aprilia. He will be a very valuable advisor.

Fabio Quartararo he has said several times that the M1’s weak point is the engine and therefore requires progress, the same progress he would have wanted from 2022. In Japan they are willing to go to great lengths to please him and that’s why he wanted to regain his confidence in the brand that allows him to succeed in the top category of MotoGP.

Yamaha with a V4 engine? Engineer Mario Uncini Manganelli answers

Curiosity is great to see the next Yamaha engine. The team leader, Massimo Meregalli, he hasn’t even ruled out a future switch to V4, a radical departure from the inline-four that’s always been used on Iwata’s bike. It would be a truly amazing thing if this revolution really happened. Let’s clarify the issue with the engineer Mario Uncini Manganelliautomotive and motorsports engineering consultant with experience at Oral, KTM, Aprilia and Mercedes F1.

Engineer, let’s start with the differences between an inline four engine and a V4.
They are two completely different engines in terms of architecture, size and weight. The inline-four has a very large frontal footprint, which is very difficult to reduce and affects the shape of the chassis. Yamaha has developed a certain firing order that facilitates power delivery and rubber wear. It’s also a more manageable engine in terms of exhaust. The V4 is totally different, it is heavier and its construction is more massive. The downside is having a rear cylinder head with a large footprint, and with this type of exhaust it can heat up the gas tank, usually under the saddle. The frame is narrower, sharper, you have more freedom and the rider can feel more comfortable. The center of gravity is more centered, while in the inline four cylinders, one tends to be further forward. The V4 has great advantages in terms of performance development. Another plus is that the air supply, air box and dynamic intake are really compact and centered. You can get better performance with more airflow, even if it means more fuel consumption. »

By switching to the V4, would Yamaha risk losing what makes the current M1 so good?
Yamaha’s competitive advantage has always been the chassis, every rider has said that. They also have the footprint of the inline four engine that has won them over so much with different riders. As a designer, I say that a company’s footprint should not be misrepresented and I don’t think Yamaha making a V4 would alter their history . . In my opinion, the Japanese know how to build engines, so maybe Yamaha prioritized the chassis and handling because the riders steered it in that direction and preferred to avoid developments that might have compromised reliability. Since they won in this line, maybe they thought that the engine was not strategic to win a world championship. »

What is the time frame to design and develop a V4 engine?
Two teams are needed, one to continue with the current engine and the other to go ahead with a completely new project that is not part of their history. They start from a blank sheet, there is a calculation and simulation activity that can take three to four months to set up the engine skeleton as well as the main transmission and support components. Once the system is installed, it takes another eight to nine months to put it on the test bench. From the decision to the first five prototypes, it can take a year and three months. Then in the race you can maybe reduce the time a bit, but you need a team that really works in synergy and is organized. They must be mapped, verified for performance and reliability, and then tested both on the bench and on the track. Also, a new chassis needs to be made, we need a different chassis with the V4. You can work on it in parallel with the engine, but it still takes months and is demanding. »

It would be possible to see the debut of a possible Yamaha V4 in 2024, the last year of Quartararo’s contract?
It depends on when they left. If they started in January, they can get there in 2024 with the engine ready. However, I doubt they will, but a feasibility project can always be done eventually. »

What do you think of Yamaha’s decision to sign Luca Marmorini?
First of all, he is a friend, I have a lot of respect for him and for thirty years he has been one of the reference technicians in motoring. It’s very capable and I think it can make an important contribution to the development of an engine, whether it’s an inline four or a V4. Yamaha made a very nice acquisition, I don’t think there are more worthy people than him right now. »

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mateo bellan

Mario Uncini Manganelli

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