Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli to start #StyrianGP from ninth and tenth
An intense MotoGP qualifying session at the Grand Prix of Styria saw the front rows of the grid decided several times during the 15 minutes, as riders constantly swapped places on the timesheets due to the tiny margins that separated them. Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli rounded out the session tenth and 11th, but will gain one position due to another rider’s penalty.
FP3 proved to be a tense one for Quartararo and Morbidelli, with times rapidly decreasing throughout the session and riders separated by thousandths of a second. Fabio was quick to show his one-lap strength and placed his Yamaha YZR-M1 within the top positions on the timing screens. As the session progressed and times dropped the Frenchman maintained his place among the front runners, as well as briefly holding the fastest lap for a short time. His best time of 1min 23.607secs saw him end the session second. With fractions of a second separating riders, team-mate Morbidelli was just shy of the automatic Q2 places for the majority of the session. The Italian managed to put together a strong series of laps in the closing stages and moved his way into eighth with a 1min 23.727secs lap time. Both riders moved directly to Q2, in a session that saw the top ten riders separated by just 0.339secs.
MotoGP’s second qualifying session was a frantic affair from the moment the pitlane light turned green, with riders separated by the tiniest of margins. Both Quartararo and Morbidelli started the session strong and were soon posting times that would put them on the front row of the grid. As the minutes ticked on the session became more dramatic, with the positions changing almost constantly. The PETRONAS Yamaha SRT pair unfortunately couldn’t find the final tenths around the 4.3km Austrian circuit, where the smallest of time gaps made a big difference. At the end of the session Fabio’s fastest time was 1min 23.866secs and Franco’s was 1min 24.021secs, which saw them qualify tenth and 11th respectively. However, due to Johann Zarco’s penalty, the pair will effectively gain one place.
Our pace in FP4 was better, but qualifying was not so good. Actually, I prefer it this way round but this isn’t the best track to do it at! With the top speed needed here, it makes qualifying difficult. I wasn’t able to push like I wanted. However, I’m happy because we’ve improved the feeling with the bike and the pace is really good when compared to those riders using the same manufacturer as us. The new settings we have used have worked really well in that aspect. Tomorrow I think finishing in the top-six would be a really good result for us, although of course we want more but this is realistic. Starting from P9 is not the best, so we will try to make a lot of clean overtakes and finish with the best result we can.
Today was a funny one: this morning I felt quite okay and I was able to get straight into Q2, but we didn’t reach our potential in qualifying. We decided to try something different for qualifying with different tyre compounds, to see if we could gain something, but it didn’t pay off in the end. We finished 11th, tenth on the starting grid, which isn’t too bad of a starting position as, apart from the top four guys, the pace is quite similar. We will try to make a good start tomorrow, have a good race and pick up as many points as we can. Of course if it rains then it makes it more difficult. This track is tricky in the wet so I’m hoping for a dry race tomorrow.