MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo Version 2.0

2021 is a year of opportunity for many riders, there is one man looking for redemption, Fabio Quartararo.

MotoGP is back, Marc Marquez is back, and it’s hotter than ever in the high stakes MotoGP World Championship where the best of the best compete against each other to be crowned the World Champion.

One rider who is desperately looking to prove some people wrong this year is Mr Fabio Quartararo, the then 21-year-old was easily the favourite for the 2020 MotoGP title after winning the season opener double at Jerez but race by race we saw the pressure mount upon the Frenchman’s shoulders as he realised how heavy the weight of the MotoGP championship lead was, this overpowering weight of everything he has ever worked for, everything he has ever trained for and every drop of blood, sweat or tears he has put into this sport to arrive at the top.

Sadly for the young rider, the whole world watched him crumble under this tremendous weight last year as he battled against his own mind to try and stay at the top, suffering silly crashes and mistakes which eventually saw him tumble down the order from P1 in the standings to P8 overall. Honestly, it was tough to watch. It was tough to see this energetic, happy go lucky rider stricken with anguish with a face like thunder as week in week out he watched his name fall and riders on the same machinery overtake him in the standings.

He had one hand on the title halfway through the season but was forced to watch the unbelievably consistent Joan Mir scoop up podiums race by race until eventually Fabio’s ex-Leopard Teammate was crowned the 2020 MotoGP champion, it was over. It was done, Fabio had lost the game of MotoGP in 2020 and would not be crowned the champion.

There is no doubt he is fast enough, he took three wins and was matched only by his teammate Franco Morbidelli who finished in second place in the standings. For Fabio he had never faced pressure like this before, he had experienced it at some level in his Moto3 debut season back in 2015 but never to this level and it showed, he didn’t know how to handle it, he didn’t what to do and it destroyed him mentally.

15-year-old Quartararo celebrating his double CEV title, he is the only rider to achieve this consecutively. 

The last time he faced serious pressure was in 2015, Fabio Quartararo joined the Moto3 class fresh off winning two consecutive CEV Moto3 Championship’s, doing so as a rookie in 2013 and either winning or taking P2 in every race in 2014, his name carried a lot of weight and many people including myself expected him to perform. Personally, I remember telling everyone who was willing to listen about this Fabio Quartararo kid who was going to take the world by storm, sadly I was left red-faced as Fabio struggled to meet the demands many people had set for him as a rookie, taking 2 podiums and missing 5 races due to injury, not meeting expectations and again struggling under pressure making silly mistakes to try and prove a point.

In 2017 he moved to Moto2 without winning a single Moto3 race, just two rookie podiums, it was an odd move and many questioned Sito Pons’ decision to hire him and maybe even Pons did himself, letting the rider go at the end of the year as he was signed by the Speed Up team for 2018. It looked to be a similar tale again, much promise but not too many good results, this was until Catalunya came around, somehow out of nowhere he qualified on pole position before taking his first race win since 2014, he stunned many people before winning again in Japan before being disqualified. People couldn’t believe what he’d done coming from nowhere to do this, he was signed to move to MotoGP in 2019 with the Petronas squad which once again was met with much confusion and questioning.

Now we all know the story of 2019, rookie of the year, P5 overall with an incredible 7 podiums to his name and many people talking about him, he was a superstar even befriending big names such as footballer Neymar. Nobody could’ve ever expected this, not from Quartararo who had never finished higher than P10 overall in the standings. Finally, he had done what was expected of him when he joined Moto3 in 2015, the only difference is this time there was no pressure, the team knew who he was and they believed in him, they provided him with a place where he could feel part of a family and grow and flourish as a rider and he only got better as the season went on.

Smiles all round after being crowned the 2019 rookie of the year, the smile would fade into obscurity in 2020. 

We all know what happened in 2020, we explained it earlier, he was able to take his first three wins in the MotoGP class including at his favourite Catalunya where he won his Moto2 race before struggling. In the 2021 offseason he confirmed he would see a sports psychologist to help his mind, he was more than fast enough to take the title in 2020 but his mental health was not strong enough and it was the reason he was unable to achieve this goal. Ask any rider about how their mental health affects their riding and they will tell you that if they’re not strong mentally they will not perform on track, it’s as simple as that. We’ve seen many careers ruined due to poor mental health including Jorge Lorenzo who got the fear following his Assen crash which nearly paralysed the man, it’s no wonder he was never the same rider again.

Fabio did the best thing he could’ve done and got help and now in 2021 he once again leads the MotoGP standings, only this time he’s back to the Fabio we know and love, he’s happy and he’s emotional and does funny things such as jumping into the Portimao swimming pool. He is a new and improved version of himself, a ‘2.0’ as the title may suggest.

After three races in 2021 he leads Francesco Bagnaia by 15 points after taking two wins, one in Qatar and the other in Portugal, his mind is healed and he can focus on doing the one thing he is best at. Racing.

Featured image – Yamaha MotoGP

2014 image – CEV Repsol

Rookie of the year – MotoGP.com