Monster Yamaha: Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo Petronas Yamaha: Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi
YAMAHA HAVE MORE WORK TO DO THAN ANYONE. although the factory won the most races last season, the bestperforming motorcycle was its 2019-spec YZr-M1, used by indie team rider franco Morbidelli, while its factory M1s were woefully inconsistent from one track to the next.
The problem seems to be the M1’s sensitivity to grip. when the track is grippy and when the bike can generate grip from the tyres, it’s hard to beat, but otherwise it struggles to get among the top 10.
so, why don’t Yamaha simply make their 2021 M1 a copy of the 2019 bike, which Morbidelli will use again this season? because engines are frozen and the full-factory bikes have different engines, with different mounting points. This could be the cause of the factory M1’s sensitivity to grip — the rigidity of the latest engine and how it fits in the chassis.
‘everything comes a lot easier when we have good grip, as when we use new tyres in qualifying,’ says fabio Quartararo, the factory’s new star who won three races last year and led the championship but ended up eighth after a run of bad races. ‘sometimes we improve almost 1.5 seconds with new tyres in qualifying, which the other bikes don’t. our bike is all or nothing — we need to find something in the middle so that we can fight for great results at every race.’
Valentino rossi, who will ride a 2021 M1 this year even though he is in the indie Petronas team, agrees.
‘it looks like we don’t understand something about the tyres,’ he says. ‘sometimes we struggle very, very much with grip.’
another problem is the fact that the M1 relies too much on the front tyre to make the lap-time, but Michelin’s rear slick is the better tyre, so Yamaha need to rebalance the bike to turn with the rear.
also, the M1 is often the slowest bike on the grid, so rossi also wants Yamaha to improve engine performance, even though internal improvements are banned for 2021.
‘now, in MotoGP you can do a lot of things to improve performance from outside the engine, with electronics, cooling, and the exhaust,’ he adds. ‘so, if Yamaha work well and in the right direction, we can do better.’