The 2021 world champion issued a stark warning after Saturday’s session at the Algarve track, claiming his Yamaha team “will not be ready” for the opening round of the campaign on 26 March.
But the Frenchman was a much happier figure at the end of his programme on Sunday, as Yamaha worked with 2022 set-up ideas to allow him to feel stronger on the bike.
Crucially, Quartararo felt he had a better bike in qualifying trim having produced a 1m38.302s after he was 1.3s slower on his time attack effort on Saturday.
“So, [we made] a massive step today,” Quartararo said after ending the day third. “Basically, we have been a little bit with last year’s aero package, some old set-ups on the bike and it was working.
“We could see where the problem was. No, it was really good. I feel at one with the bike. Still [I’m] missing a few things on the feeling, but I never made 1m38.3s in this track. So, I think it’s pretty good.
“We are in a better position. I think it’s pretty good to see we have made an improvement, [though I’m] still not where I wanted to be but I think it’s a great step.
“Also, in the test the grip is a little bit different to the races, so hopefully it’s going to help us.”
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Quartararo is essentially now running a 2022 chassis set-up and aero package (with Yamaha spending the pre-season struggling to homologate its latest version) with a 2023 engine.
“It’s not about new things,” he added. “Basically it’s old things, but it was all about set-up and it was working pretty well because yesterday on the time attack I made 1m39.6s on one lap.
“And today on the [race] pace I made 1m39s low, 1m38s high. So, it’s close to one second faster in the pace. [It’s about] getting the trye to work better, but also physically.
“Yesterday the bike was tough, it wasn’t turning. Basically, all the worst things you can have, and today we have been back to good things.”
Several Yamaha figures, including test rider Cal Crutchlow and sporting director Massimo Meregalli, have enthused in recent months that they have never seen the Japanese marque work as hard as it has done on its 2023 bike.
While Quartararo is pleased that Yamaha has made visible improvements with its package, he thinks the changes it made for 2023 were “too much” given it barely evolved the M1 over the last few years.
“I think basically for four years we have been almost with the same bike,” he said. “But this year we have been changing quite a lot, and I think too much because the others have been going step by step.
“But for three years [our bike] was the same, and then completely different and for me we got lost. We’ve gotten back with what we used in the past but with small modifications.
“It will be difficult in the beginning [of the season], but if Yamaha keeps working and brings some stuff I think we can be there in the second part of the season.”