Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
Opinion

The factors behind Quartararo's Yamaha MotoGP renewal

OPINION: Fabio Quartararo's future was a major piece of the 2025 MotoGP rider market puzzle, but he has now committed to Yamaha on a new two-year deal. While perhaps surprising given Yamaha's lack of form, his decision to stay put was driven by several factors

Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Before deciding to extend his contract with Yamaha - a deal announced on Friday - Fabio Quartararo had to choose between following two paths: to be competitive again as soon as possible, or to consider a more long-term and lucrative route. Yamaha's lack of progress makes it very difficult for the Frenchman to return to winning ways before the expiration of his new deal, which makes him the highest-earning rider on the MotoGP grid.

Since celebrating the title in 2021, the performance curve of the Yamaha ridden by Quartararo has been on a precipitous downward spiral that can only be compared to the other Japanese manufacturer in the championship. In fact, Honda had no choice but to let Marc Marquez go at the end of last season, as the Spaniard was exhausted and decided to forgo the final year of his contract and the €20 million he was entitled to.

OPINION: Why MotoGP fans must be patient with Liberty Media

Marquez opted to embark on an intrepid journey into the unknown and joined a satellite team in Gresini Racing, with a Ducati that is not the latest version available. The Spaniard chose that route in order to, as he said then and still says now, "enjoy being competitive again". 

It has been a long time since Quartararo has had fun on the M1 with its many limitations, especially a lack of traction, and no sign of the main historic strength of the bike in its handling.

Quartararo completed his last renewal in June 2022 as the reigning MotoGP champion during a season in which he fought to retain the title until the last round of the season. At that time, his bike was competitive, earning three victories and a total of podiums - a stark contrast to the current form of the M1. In 2023, it only achieved the grand prix podiums on three occasions, with the third positions Quartararo himself claimed in Austin, India and Indonesia, added to his third place in the Assen sprint race.

Quartararo has committed to a new contract - signed two weeks ago - in the knowledge that his bike is not competitive and is unlikely to be during the course of his new deal that spans 2025-26. In the Qatar season-opener, the #20 rider was 1.2 seconds off Jorge Martin's pole time. He finished 12th in the sprint race, more than 12 seconds behind winner Martin, while on Sunday he was almost 18 seconds behind Francesco Bagnaia on another Ducati GP24 in 11th.

Quartararo has only achieved a best of seventh on the Yamaha in 2024 so far

Quartararo has only achieved a best of seventh on the Yamaha in 2024 so far

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

On a very dirty track, conditions that prevent Ducati from taking full advantage of its legion of Desmosedici, Quartararo was sixth on the grid in Portugal just six tenths off polesitter Enea Bastianini. In Saturday's sprint he finished ninth, 7.5 seconds behind Maverick Vinales, and on Sunday he was 20 seconds behind Martin in seventh. Despite Yamaha's internal revolution marked by Max Bartolini's arrival as its new technical director, the rescue operation will take time.

Under normal conditions, the gap between Yamaha and the European bikes exceeds eight tenths of a second per lap on most tracks. In the current situation and with the stability of the technical regulations imposed until 2027, closing this gap is not a challenge that can be met in two years. And that is assuming the right steps are taken. If Yamaha doesn't get it right, the transition could take far longer still.

This allows us to conclude with almost total certainty that Quartararo will not have the option of fighting for the title in the medium term. It will be at this point that the weight of the messages sent to his factory increases.

Aprilia's offer was hardly more than €4 million, less than a third of the amount Yamaha has retained Quartararo for

"Yamaha is the priority because they are the ones who brought me to MotoGP. I trust the brand and I gave it a chance, but there won't be a second chance," Quartararo said in an interview with Autosport in August last year in which he was very tough and explicit: "Yamaha has been promising me things in a 10-page PDF document for three years, nine and a half of which are not fulfilled."

Regardless of the technical guarantees that the team now led by Bartolini may have given him, the other great asset of Lin Jarvis' management has been the chequebook. The €12 million or so in the new contract is more than double Bagnaia's base salary at Ducati, performance bonuses aside. Even if the Italian were to win his third consecutive title, he would not match that figure, which makes Quartararo the highest-paid rider on the grid.

There weren't many alternatives to staying in his current environment, and all would have led Quartararo to reduce his cash inflow considerably. Of all of them, the most solid was Aprilia, which in recent months opened a line of dialogue with him.

"What we want are riders who are committed to our project, we know that we have a bike capable of fighting for the world championship", its racing division's CEO Massimo Rivola told Autosport.

Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola didn't have the financial weight behind him to convince Quartararo away from Yamaha

Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola didn't have the financial weight behind him to convince Quartararo away from Yamaha

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The Piaggio Group's racing division didn't have the budget to enter into an arm wrestle with Yamaha on such terms, but it does have a bike. The growth of the RS-GP in recent years has been evidenced by a multitude of examples. In Portugal, Vinales won Saturday's sprint and came within a whisker of a podium finish on Sunday, before a gearbox failure left him just short of the finish line going into the final lap.

The reorganisation and modernisation of its internal structures and work dynamics have made Aprilia one of the most innovative and modern teams in the paddock. In some areas, it is even comparable to Ducati. In any case, its offer was hardly more than €4 million, less than a third of the amount Yamaha has retained Quartararo for.

If the Aprilia deal already meant a reduction in his salary, other options would have been a similar scenario. At Ducati, there is an obvious funnel with Martin, Marquez and the rest of the current roster, for the few openings that exist. If Quartararo had wanted to get on a Desmosedici, he would have had to go through a satellite team, with the obvious financial and status disadvantage that this would have entailed.

The outlook at KTM was not very different from that of Ducati, especially after the explosive arrival of Pedro Acosta, on whom the Austrian group is already orbiting, and with whom his future is assured.

If Ducati and KTM looked like compromised options, the thought of signing for Honda seemed even less logical if we take into account the hole in which the Tokyo brand finds itself. It is just as deep as the one Yamaha finds itself in, but with one difference. Honda is still locked in its own shell.

Without taking a pay cut, Quartararo's options outside of Yamaha were limited

Without taking a pay cut, Quartararo's options outside of Yamaha were limited

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Quartararo signs new MotoGP deal with Yamaha despite 2025 rumours
Next article Which MotoGP riders have a race seat for 2025

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe