Fabio Quartararo ended a six-year wait for Yamaha last season when he became France’s first MotoGP world champion having amassed five wins and wrapping up the title with two rounds to spare.
But the Frenchman went into the winter break unhappy with an apparent lack of significant improvement with his YZR-M1 package at November’s Jerez test, particularly in regards to Yamaha’s engine and top speed.
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Top speed has been Yamaha’s main weakness for some time, but in general has never prioritised brute power in the same way as current chief rival Ducati has.
Ducati will have eight bikes on the grid in 2022, with five of those being current-spec factory machinery – and general manager Gigi Dall’Igna has already suggested the marque has found even more horsepower from its new motor.
When asked by Autosport ahead of pre-season testing beginning in Malaysia this weekend if this is the most difficult winter Yamaha has faced given the impending Ducati onslaught, Meregalli says it has looked for top speed – but hasn’t revolutionised its M1 to do so.
“Well, this is an area where we really work hard to try to improve the top speed at the end of the straight,” Meregalli said.
“But not only with the engine, but working on the aero body, trying to improve the acceleration, the grip.
“And the aim is only one, which is to try to gain top speed at the end of the straight.
“Last year in any case, we were able to win races on the most fastest tracks, because we could win two races in Qatar, in Mugello, we fight for the victory in Barcelona before the issues Fabio had [when his race leathers opened up in the final laps].
Bikes of Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing, Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha Factory Racing
Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP
“Top speed is important but is not everything. As is Yamaha’s philosophy, we didn’t make a big revolution.
“We are always trying to fine-tune what we have because it’s also easy, and we’ve seen in the past, even a little step on the wrong path makes big problems.
“So, we learn and we are always growing step by step without making any revolution.”
RNF Racing Yamaha rider Andrea Dovizioso – who joins the satellite Yamaha squad after eight years with Ducati from 2013 to 2020 – doesn’t believe the current era of MotoGP lends itself for manufacturers to now make drastic bike changes.
“No, big revolutions in this moment is difficult because the championship has confirmed that every bike is good,” the 15-time race winner said.
“Every bike has a different characteristic, but every bike is good. So, in this case it’s very, very difficult to make a big change. Yeah, I agree.”