Date posted on April 17, 2021
Riding conditions were not optimal in Portimao, but Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales worked diligently in Friday’s (April 16) FP sessions. They completed the first day of the Grande Prémio de Portugal weekend in second and seventh place respectively in the combined FP standings.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Viñales enjoyed their first two outings around the Autódromo Internacional Algarve. Despite damp and windy conditions throughout the Friday, the pair got in plenty of laps to prepare for Sunday’s Grande Prémio de Portugal.
Quartararo didn’t take any unnecessary risks at the start of the 45-minute mixed morning session. He patiently waited for the track conditions to improve before he took his YZR-M1 out for a spin. His main objective was to get a good feeling with his bike at this circuit which he found challenging last year. His 1’42.528s fastest time earned him seventh place, 0.401s from first.
The FP2 session was dry but with dark clouds looming. The Factory Yamaha man planned to push for a top-10 spot, in case of rain tomorrow morning. He started his bid for a provisional place in Q2 with 17 minutes left on the clock. After putting his bike in P1 with a 1’40.990s, he improved on it by 0.038s a few laps later. However, he made sure to leave something in store for when his rivals would put their head down at the end of the session. His 1’39.904s was unfortunately cancelled due to another rider’s crash, but he still concluded the mini time-attack heat in second place. His 1’40.206 last lap put him 0.340s from the top in the FP2 and combined results.
Like his teammate, Viñales stayed in his garage for a while at the start of FP1, waiting for the damp patches on the track to dry. Once on his way though, he was on it. He gradually upped his pace, getting reacquainted with the undulations the Algarve track is known for. A good base setup is crucial at this technically challenging circuit. However, the Spaniard and his crew made it look easy. They wrapped up the session with a 1’42.127s for first place, 0.151s faster than his closest rival.
However, the afternoon session proved to be more challenging for the number 12 rider. He put in some hard work and spent the majority of the available track time tweaking his bike’s race setup. It wasn’t until the final stages that he switched to a soft-soft tire combination to produce a flying lap for a top-10 placement. He set a fastest time of 1’40.426s on his penultimate try. It earned him seventh place in the FP2 and combined free practice timesheets, 0.560s off today’s top time.
Massimo Meregalli (Team Director): “Today’s Free Practice sessions were a good test for us. We came to Portimao with the intention to get a sense of where we stand early on, and we got the confirmation we were looking for. The 2021 M1 is working well here too, and overall the feedback from the riders is positive. Last year, we visited this track at the very end of a very demanding season. This time round, the riders and crew get to enjoy the challenge of getting the settings right at this technically difficult track a lot more. Fabio was feeling good and was able to maintain a really good rhythm before the time attack. His best lap was cancelled due to Aleix Espargaró’s crash, but even his second fastest time was quick enough to earn him second place today. He has great potential and motivation for tomorrow’s sessions. Maverick was feeling really good on the bike in FP1, even when the track was damp, which is usually not our favorite condition. But in the afternoon, he didn’t have the same feeling and couldn’t push to the limit, so that’s what we will work on tonight – we will prepare something for tomorrow. We expect FP3 to be like a qualifying session, and then in FP4 we will again focus on fine-tuning our race setups.”
Fabio Quartararo: “I’m so happy with how it went here today. Last year was a disaster for me. Mentally it’s so important to be strong and try to reset from what happened last year. And actually our pace was really strong today. I feel so good. I can’t wait for tomorrow and find a bit more pace, but honestly it feels really good to be at this track and have fun. I can say that the bike is also working really well here, so I’m happy. We don’t have any specific areas that we need to work on right now. But it would be nice to have a bit more grip on track over the next days. There is a lot of sliding here, so the lap times are close to a second slower compared to last year.”
Maverick Viñales:“In the morning I had a really great feeling. Somehow, I felt a lot of grip with the tires. But this afternoon, on the other hand, I felt the opposite way. I was sliding a lot, especially with the front, and I never got the good feeling necessary to push. So, for sure, we can improve a lot, and we picked out some clear points of the settings that we will work on. So, we will see tomorrow, but overall I’m still quite confident. Despite today’s problems, we are still at the front of the group, so that’s actually quite good, and we are inside the top-10, which is the most important.”
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