“To win several titles, I have to go step by step,” Fabio Quartararo explains

Four more Grand Prix in the home section of this Moto GP championship. And for the first time in the history of the discipline, a Frenchman, Fabio Quartararo, can become world champion. Ahead of the Austin (US) Grand Prix this weekend, the 22-year-old Nice driver has a 48-point lead, a comfortable margin to win the title, even if nothing is done. Above all, it is just one stage in the ambitious career that “El Diablo” seeks, according to 20 minutes.

Come out of a magnificent duel in Misano (Italy) with Francesco Bagnaia, your runner-up in the general. Will this be the duel of the last races?

Unfortunately there was no duel, I made a very good comeback but without being able to really fight. But I’m happy, the race went well, I recovered well, with a very good pace. Will this be the duel of the last four races? I don’t know, but for the championship it will be with him that I will fight until the end of the season. In Austin I think there will be other competitors, it will be great until the end. You have to have fun, do your best because there are many riders who can also fight for victories. I don’t have to think only of Bagnaia.

How are you doing this season finale? In Austria (rain at the end of the race) you thought more about the championship than Misano, where you gave everything to win the race …

In fact, it all depends on the circumstances. In Austria it was very easy to go wrong, and we saw it because all my competitors who could play something also stopped to change bikes. In Misano I felt I could fight for victory, so I gave it my all, even if it meant taking risks.

What’s the difference with last season in this race for the world title?

Last year I was a bit obsessed with the championship, looking forward to being first. But it’s something I leave behind, and now I prefer to watch it race to race. This is what works. I didn’t do anything special other than go see a psychiatrist at the end of the 2020 season who helped me. It was an interesting thing for me. But it is above all experience that makes the difference.

With 19 podiums in Moto GP, you are now the Frenchman who has scored the most. How do you feel about that?

For now, this is just the beginning. I want to continue with that momentum, but most of all not to stop here. My goals are much higher, I have to keep going. Continue to give my best at the Grand Prix and win several titles. But I have to go step by step, and a first world title this year would be fantastic. Of course, having the podium record is an exceptional thing, but my goal is to win world championships. I’m trying to fulfill one of my dreams, and I’m going there slowly.

Fabio Quartararo during his victory at Sliverstone. – Rui Vieira / AP / SIPA

Is there a lot of anticipation on your shoulders, pressure, at the end of the season?

Not especially at this season finale. We are 48 points ahead, we have four races left and we have a margin.

Do you feel a passion in France for Moto GP through your performances?

Yes, of course I’m sorry. But honestly I’m so into my bubble right now that I don’t think about it too much. I see this change that is mainly related to the efforts we have made and the very good work done with the Yamaha team.

Johann Zarco was operated on for compartment syndrome, you too last May, and five more drivers during the year. Aren’t motorcycles too powerful for the human body?

Yes, but unfortunately we don’t have much choice. Up front, bikes are getting faster and faster, so there’s a race for performance. This is the reason why many pilots operate. For my part, it is much better, I have no more discomfort, the operation has gone very well so I should have no more problems.

There seems to be a good atmosphere in the MotoGP paddock, with a lot of closeness between you …

It is true that there is more than a good atmosphere, with a lot of respect among the riders. We do a few little things together off the bike. It’s great, and better that way.

Valentino Rossi, whom you succeeded at Yamaha, will retire at the end of the season. How do you feel about that?

What Valentino Rossi has achieved during his career is extraordinary. It was he who gave me this motivation to be eager to fight in MotoGP, and it was through his performances that I made the decision to become a MotoGP rider. It is a benchmark for our sport. Even if there is no real sharing of the bike, everyone is for their skin.

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