Silverstone MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Unfazed Fabio, Trouble With Tires, Close Races, Aprilia Joy, And Marquez' Madness

The question MotoGP fans and followers were asking themselves over the summer break was how much of his 34-point championship lead Fabio Quartararo would be able to hang on to after Ducati ruled two races in Austria and Suzuki hoovered up the points at Silverstone. The best the Monster Energy Yamaha rider could hope for was to claw back a few points at the British Grand Prix, and then hope to manage the points gap to the end of the season. The question in everyone's mind was how much of Quartararo's lead would remain, and whether his lead would even be in double figures.

It hasn't turned out that way. Quartararo finished third and seventh in the two races at the Red Bull Ring, and managed to extend his lead to 47 points by the time MotoGP left Austria. At Silverstone, the Frenchman dominated, adding another victory and stretching his lead to 65 points. With six races left in the 2021 MotoGP season (probably, Covid-19 permitting), the championship is Quartararo's to lose.

Silverstone threw up a host of surprises, from Pol Espargaro's first pole on a Repsol Honda, to brother Aleix Espargaro bagging Aprilia's first podium in MotoGP. Marc Marquez' boneheaded move on Jorge Martin on the first lap to Iker Lecuona redeeming himself to score an outstanding seventh place in the dry. From riders who had no trouble using the soft front tire, to others who saw their lap times drop off by two seconds or more as the race went on.

Unfortunately for fans (and journalists) relying on the MotoGP.com website and app, the live video feed crashed shortly before the start of the race. Frantic hard work brought it back shortly before the end of the race, and Dorna issued an unusually profuse apology to videopass customers, uploading the entire race in double quick time. As is inevitably the case with computer-based systems, they always break at the least convenient time.

Looking back at Silverstone, in these subscriber notes:

  • how Fabio Quartararo has thrived while chaos consumed Viñales' side of the garage
  • Quartararo's (probably) insurmountable lead in the championship
  • trouble with tires
  • just how close is modern MotoGP
  • Aleix Espargaro finally gets it done for Aprilia
  • Marc Marquez moment of madness with Martin
  • why Iker Lecuona deserves another chance

But first, to the winner. Fabio Quartararo ran a remarkable race. There was a sense of frustration in the qualifying press conference on Saturday, at having to start from third on the grid. The soft rear tire was giving him a much worse feeling and very little performance gain, but he had done enough to start from the front row.

Keep calm and Quartararo

The Frenchman lost a few places at the start, but didn't panic. He made his way through the leaders calmly and surgically, and took the lead at the quarter distance mark. Once past, he showed just how much more speed he had than the rest. In the space of three laps, his lead was over 2 seconds. Three laps later, he was over 3 seconds ahead. At that point, the race was effectively over. Quartararo cruised home to a comfortable victory.

Quartararo's win is all the more remarkable because of the chaos he has faced on the other side of the garage in the past few weeks. Longer, perhaps: Maverick Viñales may have won the season opener, but things quickly started going downhill after that.

A change of crew chief at Barcelona, last place at the Sachsenring, then second at Assen, and a decision to leave Yamaha at the end of the year. After the summer, a riotous split from Yamaha when Viñales abused the bike during a miserable Styrian Grand Prix, which saw Viñales suspended for the following race, then sacked a week later.

With the other side of the Monster Energy Yamaha garage in disarray, you would think it would have an effect on Fabio Quartararo's' concentration. How could he stay so calm in the face of so much disruption?

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Source: 
year: 
2021
round_number: 
12

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Comments

Excellent article thank you Mr Emmet. I can understand that Marc is eager to do well in the races he feels strong in after being out for so long... it kind of reminds me of Jorge on the Honda when he was in the front group after struggling for so long and then making a mistake to take out a couple of riders... Think back to Catalunya 2019. But then again Pol has struggled of late but he managed to keep his powder dry... I personally think Marc was smarting after being nudged by Martin and at the very next corner he wanted to teach the young upstart a lesson. The old Marc would have nudged Martin off and carried on... but the new Marc isn't completely free of Kryptonite yet and has not come to terms with the fact that all of his super powers are not at 100% yet... I am sure he will work this out and win many more races and championships but if he doesn't he may never win another championship again... Also like all great riders and champions he hates to see others stealing his limelight... I cannot wait for Aragon let's hope there are same tasty battles and that somehow Marc makes a charge through the field...

In depth analysis on Fabio greatly appreciated. As a fan of the "goofy french farmer" (and I say that with all love), I feel he has been diss'd and ignored all too much. I love Fabios race craft, agressive but clean, cleaner than Mir. I hope the best for him this year. I see we also agree on a couple of major points, Marquez red mist and Lecuona deserving a ride. 

It's not impossible that with a 67 point lead Fabio has actually already won the world championship, but we just don't yet know it; with his rivals constantly taking points off each other, there's a half decent chance that no-one else will reach his current tally of 206 points.

Great summary, David. As far as all this about Fabio being invested in what goes on on the other side of the garage, why would he care? On the other side of the garage isn't your teammate, it's your prime opponent. It isn't as if they love and support each other through thick and thin. No, the first person you have to beat is your "teammate" so I would expect there to be no love lost between them. Or maybe I'm just projecting my own personality onto them...

Very disappointed that Mir couldn't do more. He used to come good toward the end of the races but that hasn't been happening lately. I wonder why...

I think I'm falling in love with JM89. "But I hope he can learn from this one and improve for the future." from a rookie to an 8-time world champion may be the greatest combination of words in the history of language. I am still LOLing. Jorge Martin is a future champion for sure, and it won't be long.

Jack had a good race but not good enough. The lead factory rider for Ducati should be more consistently at the front fighting for wins. As for the other side, Pecco doesn't do it for me. I know he's fast at times but his racecraft or something needs work, maybe more experience He would be better at Pramac, imo.

Rins finally got me some points. Gee, thanks. But MM and Zarco keep right on letting me down. Don't they know this is all about me?

 

Brian, not so much MM but... Zarco is letting me down completely too!  I think we are going to have to have a little chat with him.

Right now , I don't see anyone being as consistent as FQ....His race craft has been so tactical ! He use to be impatient -young , immature , trying to win the race in the first few laps . He honestly kind of reminds me of a young Valentino and he rides the M1 like Jorge ...surgical precision ...smooth like butter . He has the upmost confidence in the M1's front end and extracts every bit of it to his advantage . I don't see JM being a Champion in the future ...doesn't seem to have that "special " thing , as I like to call it . JM is impressing the heck out of me . He is riding the heck out of that GP21....Franco M should do well on the factory package . I don't see MM ever being the same MM again ...🤷🏿‍♂️

Jack Miller is the JM I don't see as a champion . Jorge Martin is looking real good , especially as a rookie on what has beenb a difficult machine to master. Joan Mir's conistency has not been like last year....maybe somewhat attributed to machinery...

 

Nice write up David, thanks.

Spot on about Fabio, every race a little more impressed or a lot more impressed. Onwards and upwards. Anything can happen but it's really hard to see anybody coming near in overall performance this year. Given his performances at the 'non Yamaha' tracks the trophy just requires engraving.

About the tyres. I've kind of half thought to myself in the past that a little bit of spice thrown in isn't a bad thing but looking at Bagnaia, if that is due to a 'dud' tyre then it's too big a difference given closeness of the field. Sort that crap out. However, back to Fabio, i guess he's just lucky in the tyres they give him...or not. No conspiracy implied, I just think he must have these issues also but is riding around them or managing the tyres better with the Yamaha. Good on him.

Not ready to point the finger at Michelin. There are more factory bikes on the grid (generating more power) than ever before. That means more heat. The competiton is tight. The tires are bathed in heat. The Michelins have a narrow operating window. The riders have to ride in the pack during the race not always being able to choose their lines. Unlike practice sessions. The pandemic has disrupted supply chains and the workforce. Lots of elements can be contributing to unexpected tire wear. Did pressure and nerves play a part in Mir's and Bagnaia's excessive tire wear? Not privy to that data. Is Rossi losing his fine touch? Surgical, which Mr. Emmett used to describe Quartararo's skill during the Silverstone race, was used in the past to describe the Doctor's passing. Unlike Marquez's bully moves. The logic is that when a guy crashes, usually a penalty doesn't apply because his race is ruined. But what if two races are ruined? Why doesn't the instigator of two ruined races recieve a penalty for the next race also? Especially for bonehead moves. Never made sense to me. Apparently, intent must be proved. Good luck getting inside Marquez's head. 

Anyone else experience peace and calm when chaos was disrupting all around you? That's Quartararo's world right now. And he is dancing around and not engaging with the disruptive energy. The guy is on point. Right now. And yeah, Dovizioso and Lecuona at WithU Yamaha sounds reasonable today. 

Well, it's hard to ride the wave continuously. Marquez's record is living proof. But Quartararo is doing it in style.

May that Pandoras box be forever closed, or at the very least only be opened in emergencies. Moto 3, the riders being silly, open it up and release the curses upon their souls. Moto 3 riders start behaving, close it and don't open it again until things get very dire.

I totally understand the rational. It makes total sense to penalize somebody for doing something stupid that destroys another riders weekend. All that hard work down the drain. However, judging by the furore which spews forth with every track limit violation, penalizing riders for 'racing gone wrong' would potentially threaten the future of humanity. Or worse still it would result in MotoGP becoming something akin to F1.

Marc ruined Martin's race because Martin was out. Ok, well if Martin didn't fall but lost 10 positions his race is also ruined. Yeah but he would have won if he hadn't lost 2 positions. Well he didn't lose any positions but there was some damage to his fairing and we all know aero makes a big difference these days.

The rational for penalizing riders is there and makes sense but i only see darkness down that path. I'd prefer to see it as a racing incident, which it was no matter how stupid.

Talking of F1, last weekends 'race' was the first i have paid much attention to for a long time. Strange.

Why is their IT still so weak, year after year? They charge a high enough fee, but are clearly not allocating sufficient resources to ensure consistent- and commonly expected- performance on their platform.

Tires are overrepresented as "the problem." The whole team views them as an externality, everything but the rider and the tires is their domain. The rider gets on the bike they have and focuses their attention on a wee contact patch. They return to the garage to report what the tires told them about the bike. The team hears what the rider was able to do with their bike through these tires. 

Plus, they are very seldom having no other factors change between experience of two tires. Track temps, actual tire pressures relative to one another, rubber on track, bike set up changes, electronics settings, riding style and load on tire, time spent fighting in a group vs alone, in a draft vs clean air, so forth.

"Must be a bad tire." Miller said it most clearly last weekend. I heard it as another thing to say besides I got beat by an Aprilia, something wasn't like I wanted/expected/should be, and me and "the boys" arrived at that as a guess. Following a brief period in which Jack has been seen as perhaps rider #3 or #4 at Ducati, and his Factory seat even coming to question. Jack shoots straight, but lots, and from a short barrel. Lots going on there folks.

Don't get suckered in. Are there some tire inconsistencies ever? Yes. Once in a while someone's dog actually ate their homework. We can hear for that too with a good filter. We may be having SOME. Oliveira's chunking was an issue, but rather than one bad tire it could be what all the softs would do under that circumstance? Difficult to tell. And the tire manufacturer won't tell, while the rider is in front of a camera repeatedly speaking what they feel, Michelin is the opposite. The structural imbalance is clear. No pitchforks needed. 

P.S. re Iker, yes he just displayed a brief perk up, but it is simply a bit too little and too late. It has some Elias desperate motivation, it has unfortunate Lorenzo/Red timing, whatever. It is a good step, helps him in the future, but it is a nice goodbye kiss that makes one wonder if the breakup could have been different more than anything more. No bloody way would I trade Gardner or Fernandez etc to keep him. 

I may be harsh on our last few riders, it pains me to see precious seats that could ridden by faster riders (Toprak and those fastest few in Moto2 at present). I find it healthy to replenish the field in a reasonable amount of time. Rabat was here too long. Smith had showed lots more strength, he was dead weight. So was Abraham. Savadori has risen to maybe being sufficient for a Test rider after being of questionable pace for that prior. Heck, I have been fully ready for Valentino to move on for a year. This isn't a talent cup, we aren't Ajo. This is the big show. I don't see a place for Iker right now with all the talent around. 

Vinales in Black today at Misano was a success. Ergos set, and off he went on base setting of what Aleix just used to Podium Sunday. About 60 laps, quickly pushed. Rain interrupted the afternoon, but despite that he hit 7/10ths off of Aleix's best pole lap there from last yr. Good go! I bless this union, and validate the recent divorce proceedings. Sincere best of luck. An underdog again may be good for Mav. The bike may like to be overridden with anger where the Blue bike does not. Grabbing this level of rider at $1 million or whatever back of mid pack salary is a score for Aprilia. Aprilia is surely wide open and eager to hear the Yamaha/Suzuki/race winning rider's thoughts and recommendations. In Yamaha's gutter period that was not the case, it was "settle down and ride THIS bike, no we will not try more things, and the factory says you must make this work." Cramming a beast of a horse back into the stall after bucking in the arena gets broken down doors. May you enjoy the openness of the meadow, the OTHER door out of the arena. In which you settle into yourself and the racing. 

May the bonus pay arrangement challenge the budget like Quarty/Aqua. May we wish fruit born of the Black horse drafting in to the camera view. Even Aleix benefits from the push, his boat rises in the same water.

(I wish everyone in the paddock but Honda all the best! That's right, one can be an unfanboy. Deeply admired their V5, the engineering was unbelievable. Disdain though about so many other things, especially their petulant tyrant hand on the rulebook for many yrs. There needs to be a shirt with every other bike on it and a banner "Huck Fonda." Rant over, thank you, and goodnight. Viva Orange and Light Blue and Red and Blue and Black!)

;)

Videos (brief) of Vinales, look at the VERY relaxed open face! Pressure off. Bagnaia and Zarco are out there on Panigales btw. Pirro, Kallio and Dani too. I like the first one from 30 secs on, good footage of cornering/riding style. He is not settled in yet obviously, but the lap time is not bad at all. I sense good things coming.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7WG864LUnDY

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gC42yN0VsTA

You meant "egos set", didn't you? lol

Me, I'm waiting for the first tantrum when Aspargus beats him somewhere.

LOL Aprilia is betting on both. I'm betting on ergos being more set than ego, but whaddu I know? He thinks Yamaha was unresponsive to his whims...he'll be wishing he was back at Suzuki soon. But hey, changing his number helped so much maybe this will too. Woohoo

Marc Marquez has always been a entitled twit who routinely took out competitors as he rose through the Moto ranks.  Once he was at the top and running at the front there were, of course, less competitors for him to bash into.  Now that time has inevitably knocked him off his arogant perch he is again reminding us what an bully boy he has always been.  Interesting, in contrast, to how Rossi is handling his slow slide from the top. Much less caos it would appear ... just sayn'

Have to give a big thumbs-up to Silverstone for organisation on Sunday. I left at the end of the Moto2 race at 3:10, was back in the car at 3:30 and was home (admittedly only 15 miles away!) at 4:05. Great to see such a big crowd and so many enthusiasts there - just wondering whether some of them are actual MotoGP fans or just Rossi fans who probably won't ever go again...

One weird thing, though: all the Rossi-aligned merchandise stands were there, but the other main ones that do Suzuki, Petronas, etc. (I think it's Clintons?) were completely absent - and I did a full lap on my pushbike while the morning warm-ups were on to check. There was this bizarre situation where you couldn't buy any merch of the reigning MotoGP world champion, but you could buy Andrea Migno and Niccolo Antonelli T-shirts.

P.S. I noted in David's (otherwise fantastic as ever) report that a 'brisk wind' was mentioned. I didn't think it was very windy at all on Sunday. It was a bit chilly at times but if it had been windy, it would have been brutally cold. Like Valencia 2019 cold.

Happy to be of service, Peter!

It looked like the full F1-level traffic plan was in place: park-and-ride systems, and the A43 closed so race traffic could get in and out on both sides of the road. I think I heard on the PA system that the race day crowd was 67,000, compared to 50,000 for the 2019 race when it was boiling hot, but it looked and felt like a lot more.

Weather on sunday in south was odd - plenty of cloud cover and reasonably warm - but certaintly not hot. At least Silverstone was dry and you got a race unlike in Spa!

Why Michelin is above criticism? Do the riders fear that if they bitch about the tyres then the Michelin guy in their team will get orders from Taramasso to "make it look like an accident" (a la a real slim shady "spittin on ya onion rings") ??? 

Sire David would you please barge your way in and do a full report on Michelin QC? Thanks. 

Full disclaimer : Proud MM supporter/fan ( not fanatic/fan boy) here.  The man deserves a telling off for the move that didn't stick...but seriously people talking about him like no other multiple world champions have made mistakes and taken others out.. Jeez.. Even Martin says the move was possible but he doesn't understand why he "straightened up".. MM has a history I agree and this makes him a target for scrutiny and that's fair enough but its a racing incident, he owns up, apologises and so let's move on eh.. Forward ho to Aragon. 

Jack. I love Jack as anybody but he better start kicking some goals here otherwise he will only ever be good for 4th place. Nothing wrong with that but it's a satellite rider position. I'm just not seeing the pizzazz in him that a factory rider/championship winner ought to have. 

There's a rule that riders can't criticize tires. MN went for an opening with the intent to punish JM89 for passing him. MM did the identical thing to Alex but Aleix was able to go wide on the green and stay upright. I think Mm believed Martin would do the same. That's why MM straightened up and rammed Jorge when he could have stayed tight and made the pass. Too clever by half. I can't stand MM but he was fast in his day 

I am of the opinion that Marquez stood up the bike to keep from crashing. Marquez stated after the race that he wasn't able to control the bike.

It seems quite clear that he screwed up grabbing at an inside pass that didn't exist. That specific very narrow line threading the track does not allow for that. And so much of the track does, he had only to wait another turn to have a pass. 

There are several varieties of "seeing red." This may be a particularly shite one, a personal reaction possibly. Prideful, disgust/disdain - of other (that guy?! Passing ME?!) and also of self (this CAN'T be happening). Emotional dysregulation likely. A bit of anger slower burning can be good drive. A burst eliminating judgement? No bueno. 

That plus a recent track record of many such barging through riders on lap 1 turns colors this crap. He is for sure on RD microscope attention right now for a "pattern of behavior." Again. And, yes, it is part of why he is such a great rider. Both can be true, right?

I want he and Martin to come forward to close the season. (And Mir). With Martin, I think Ducati may have finally found their top rider. When the new F tire arrives it will be very interesting to see which bikes and riders come forward. KTM perhaps, and look at how many Orange riders could arrive (3?). Also Marc. Suzuki and Yamaha may frown upon the F tire arrival. Except Quartararo, who is an Alien. Still cheering wee Suzuki, please be diligent now with bike development!

 

I'd love to see Jorge and Marc battle it out up front, preferably with Pecco and Frankie in the mix. And why not Mir too. Let's wait and see how Frankie gets on with the '21 and Mav on the Aprilia. What a mid-season shuffle this turned into, EPIC !!

 

After rewatching the incident on video, gotta admit that the memory of the crash doesn't jive with the footage. Maybe I remembered it the way I wanted or judged it to be.

Not sure what Martin was talking about. Marquez didn't look to be standing the bike up, only running wide. Went for the gap which closed up before he could get through. Which was a result of his move.

And concerning Marquez's motivation, he could have been attempting a pass that he might have been able to pull off two years ago. Maybe his body and/or machine let him down and that was why he mentined losing control after the race. He's willing himself to return to his former racing abilities, glory days and status. I see the possibility of slight desperation in his move (and some of his racing this year). But the red mist scenario you articulated is just as plausible (and familiar). Another way a guy loses control.