Quartararo 'living the dream' after winning maiden MotoGP title

By Sports Desk October 24, 2021

Fabio Quartararo is "living the dream" after becoming the first Frenchman to win the MotoGP title following an eventful Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The 22-year-old, who is competing in just his third season, was crowned 2021 world champion after closest challenger Francesco Bagnaia crashed out of Sunday's race.

Bagnaia started from pole and was leading with five laps to go, only to come off his bike and effectively end his chances of catching Quartararo in the drivers' standings with two grands prix remaining.

Yamaha rider Quartararo still had to see out the race to pick up the three points needed to seal top spot and did that with a fourth-placed finish in Italy.

Quartararo's triumph, which ends Yamaha's six-year wait for a title, was achieved the hard way as he started the race in 15th after his worst ever qualifying session on Saturday.

He gradually made his way through the field after a slow start that saw him drop two more places, yet he was still fifth when Bagnaia crashed.

The Frenchman said on the eve of the race he expected the title battle to continue into the Grande Premio do Algarve next month and he felt the pressure at the start line.

"It was tough for me because I made a really bad start and I never experienced a MotoGP start at that far back," he said. 

"I think our front tyre pressure goes so much up [in a pack]. When I braked, I had a lot of moments almost crashing, so to be close to the podium was amazing.

"It was a new experience, and also with the pressure of the championship I was feeling really bad this morning.

"Let's say I had pain in the belly, it is the first time that I found it difficult to eat before the race, so it was a big day and we managed to be world champion.

"After this I think the weight of trying to be world champion, from now, will totally lose the pressure and I can enjoy the two last races."

Bagnaia had just stretched away from eventual race winner Marc Marquez when he crashed and cut a desolate figure at the end of the race.

The Italian, who was one of the first to congratulate Quartararo, denied losing focus with the winning line in sight and also backed the call to use hard front tyres.

That was a decision that also cost Ducati team-mate Jack Miller, who crashed early on at the same corner as Bagnaia.

"Medium for me was worse than soft; soft was already on the limit yesterday and this morning, so the hard was the correct choice," Bagnaia said.

"The only thing is with the hard you just need to push every single lap like hell, to let the tyre be hot.

"As for the crash, that was not because I lost concentration. I was pushing – it was winning or gravel, and I tried all to achieve this win.

"I'm happy about my performance. Of course I'm a bit frustrated about the result because I think we were deserving of more.

"But we just try to be always more competitive, and for next year we are for sure in a good way."

Related items

  • Ferrari driver Sainz wants 'debate' over F1 car designs amid health concerns Ferrari driver Sainz wants 'debate' over F1 car designs amid health concerns

    Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz wants a wider debate on the impact that designs of modern Formula One cars are having on driver health.

    Constructors in the series have taken steps to counteract the impact of 'porpoising' (or bouncing of the car) brought about by new aerodynamic rules, including making suspensions stiffer.

    The rule changes were brought in with the intention of increasing opportunities to overtake, but one of the impacts of that has been the extra 'porpoising'.

    Sainz, who sits fifth in this season's driver standings, has been in Formula One since 2015 and says he can already feel the toll taken on his back and neck.

    Asked prior to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix how the issue may be particularly prominent on the street-race of Monaco at the end of this month, Sainz said: "It's more than Monaco.

    "How much toll should a driver pay for his back and his health in an F1 career with this kind of car philosophy?

    "I think we need to open the debate more than anything.

    "I think the regulations are great. They're doing exactly what we needed for racing. But do we need to run as stiff for our necks and back as we are having to run lately?

    "I've done my usual checks on my back, neck tightness, and I see this year I'm tighter everywhere.

    "I don't need expert advice to know that 10 years like this it's going to be tough, and you're going to need to work a lot in mobility, flexibility."

    McLaren driver Lando Norris, a former team-mate of Sainz, offered suggestions to limit 'porpoising'.

    "I would have thought you'd have much worse effects from crashing a car at 50 or 60G like some of us have done," Norris said.

    "There are also many ways for them to stop porpoising. Like lifting your rear ride height 20mm."

  • 'The driver is very important in F1, but not crucial' – Fernando Alonso verdict on Lewis Hamilton's struggles 'The driver is very important in F1, but not crucial' – Fernando Alonso verdict on Lewis Hamilton's struggles

    Fernando Alonso claims seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton now knows how the other drivers feel, as Mercedes struggle to keep up with the pace-setters this season.

    Hamilton, 37, won six of the seven titles leading into the 2021 season, but he appears incapable of getting back to the mountain top just now, with Mercedes so much slower than Ferrari and Red Bull.

    Alonso, 40, won back-to-back championships in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, and after a strong run with Ferrari in the early 2010s, he struggled mightily after his move to McLaren, finishing 17th, 10th, 15th and 11th from 2015 to 2018.

    After trying his hand at other racing disciplines in 2019 and 2020, Alonso returned to F1 with Alpine in 2021, where he is now partnered with Esteban Ocon as the two battle it out in the midfield with a car that cannot compete for wins.

    Speaking to BBC Sport ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, Alonso highlighted how often the success of a driver can be out of their hands, and expressed only limited sympathy for Hamilton's struggles this season.

    "This is the nature of the sport," Alonso said. "Sometimes you have a better car, sometimes you have not such a good car and you still need to fight and make some progress.

    "This year we see that the driver is very important in F1, but not crucial. Lewis is driving as good as he has been the last eight years. He was dominating the sport and breaking all the records and 100-and-something pole positions.

    "Now he is doing a mega lap – as he said in Australia or somewhere like that – and he is one second behind. So, yeah – welcome."

    Alonso compared his championship years to Hamilton's, saying often the true stars of the team are behind the scenes, while the drivers get to soak in all the glory.

    "To have more than 100 pole positions in F1 is something unthinkable. You need to have the best car and package for many, many years," Alonso said.

    "He deserves everything he's achieved in the past, but this year is a good reminder that in all those records and numbers, there is a big part on what you have in your hands as a package in the car."

    In a show of respect for this generation's most successful driver, Alonso predicted Hamilton will rebound from a slow start and finish ahead of team-mate George Russell this season.

    "George has been very fast in the last few years and I think everyone was expecting him to be a tough competitor for Lewis," Alonso said. "But I still believe Lewis will eventually finish the championship in front.

    "This is just a five-race championship [so far], but eventually when things are more tricky or [there are] difficult situations, Lewis will still have more experience and maybe more talent."

  • Formula One confirm Russian Grand Prix will not be replaced for 2022 season Formula One confirm Russian Grand Prix will not be replaced for 2022 season

    Formula One has confirmed there will be just 22 grands prix in the 2022 season after cancelling the Russian Grand Prix earlier this year.

    F1 bosses tore up their contract with organisers of the Russian race in March.

    Promoters Rosgonki had a deal that was due to run until 2025, with St Petersburg due to replace Sochi as host of the race next year.

    However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine led F1 chiefs to declare the 2022 race in Sochi had been cancelled, and it has now been confirmed there will be no replacement, meaning just 22 races will take place instead of the previous 23.

    A statement on the F1 website on Wednesday read: "The 2022 Formula 1 calendar will now run to 22 races rather than the originally planned 23, following the decision not to replace the Russian Grand Prix.

    "It was announced on February 25 that, following meetings between Formula 1, the FIA and the teams, the championship would not race at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, which was set to be held on September 23-25.

    "But it's now been revealed that there will be no additional Grand Prix added to the calendar to fill the gap – meaning the 2022 calendar will run to 22 races."

    After five races of the 2022 season, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc leads the way in the drivers' standings on 104 points, with defending champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull in second on 85.

    The Spanish Grand Prix takes place on Sunday in Barcelona.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.