Rarely at fault during sixteen Grands Prix, Fabio Quartararo wrote a page in the history of French sport by becoming the first Habs MotoGP world champion. A look back at a season during which “El Diablo” demonstrated his maturity at only 22 years old.
Don’t call him “El Diablo” anymore but… Mr. World Champion! While France had champions in a good number of motorcycle categories, France had never been able to celebrate a title in the premier category in 72 years. Patrick Pons opened the way in 750cc in 1979, followed by Jean-Louis Tournadre, who won in 250cc in 1982, then by Christian Sarron in 1984 and Olivier Jacque in 2000 in the same category. Arnaud Vincent in 2002 then Mike di Meglio in 2008 in 125cc took over before Johann Zarco dominated Moto2 in 2015 and 2016. But Fabio Quartararo marked the history of French motorcycles and French sport after leaving the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna. A title of world champion which, after two first seasons in the premier category marked by an almost linear progression, was quite obvious even if he had said that it would be concluded in Portimão and not in Misano. For the Frenchman’s MotoGP debut in 2019, Marc Marquez delayed the deadline for the first victory before a lack of experience and almost maturity prevented him from aiming for the title in 2020. Substitute for Valentino Rossi within the official Yamaha team, Fabio Quartararo fully justified the confidence placed in him by Lin Jarvis and his leaders. If he started this 2021 season in a modest way with a fifth place for the Grand Prix of Qatar, “El Diablo” banged his fist on the table in the second round in the Middle East. After a fantastic comeback from ninth place, Fabio Quartararo went for the first of his five victories ahead of his compatriot Johann Zarco and Jorge Martin.
# ELD1ABLO ? @FabioQ20 IS YOUR 2021 #MotoGP WORLD CHAMPION! ? pic.twitter.com/NcH0kHpEiE
— MotoGP™? (@MotoGP) October 24, 2021
The compartment syndrome, the only real fear for Quartararo
A state of grace that the Habs confirmed during the Portuguese Grand Prix before what could have been a brake in his ambitions. Dominator in Jérez de la Frontera, the pains linked to a box syndrome deprived him of a third success in a row but without preventing him from finishing in the points, a consistency and a regularity in the performance which was the key to the world title, like Joan Mir last year. However, Fabio Quartararo has only one weakness… the rain. In front of his home crowd, he was able to limit the damage with a third place behind Jack Miller and Johann Zarco. But one of his greatest successes will undoubtedly be the authoritarian victory won on a circuit absolutely not favorable to the qualities of his Yamaha, the Mugello.. A 2021 season during which Fabio Quartararo went through all the emotions, as in Catalonia. In the fight for victory against Miguel Oliveira, “El Diablo” was betrayed by… his combination. Not wanting to pit, the Frenchman insisted and finished the race with his chest up. Third on the line, the Niçois was finally penalized twice for a sixth place. In sixteen races, Fabio Quartararo has only missed the podium six times. Indeed, unlike the 2020 season, the Frenchman understood that it was necessary to better ensure when victory was not within reach. A podium on which he nevertheless took his ease, chaining two third places in Germany and Styria with a good victory in Assen in the meantime.
It wouldn’t be a title celebration without the gold helmet! ?
The @FabioQ20 party is well and truly underway! ?# ELD1ABLO ? | #EmiliaRomagnaGP ? pic.twitter.com/GOqCDVnDKW
— MotoGP™? (@MotoGP) October 24, 2021
Ultimate rival, Bagnaia finally cracked against Quartararo
A “box” on which he could not take place during an Austrian Grand Prix also disturbed by the rain and won by a Brad Binder balancing on slick tires. The victory, Fabio Quartararo went to seek it a fifth time at Silverstone before an end of the season which saw a rival emerge, Francesco Bagnaia. Disappointing in Great Britain, the Italian did better than resist Marc Marquez in Aragon, on a circuit which failed the Frenchman with an eighth place. However, from there, Fabio Quartararo had the advantage of being able to see them come with a 53-point lead with five races to go. A gap that faded slightly in the first race in Misano, at the end of which the Frenchman failed in the Italian’s aspiration after another fantastic comeback, before growing up again in Austin, during a Grand Prix during which Francesco Bagnaia took advantage of the support of the other Ducati riders to finish third. A result that had despite everything offered three match points to Fabio Quartararo. Everything seemed set for the title fight to continue in Portimão, as the Frenchman had barely announced when he crossed the finish line in the United States. But a small mistake four laps from the finish of the Grand Prix d’Emilie-Romagna changed the situation. The lost podium against Enea Bastianini will remain anecdotal. With 65 points ahead and two Grand Prix still to be contested, Fabio Quartararo has obtained the right to swap his favorite number 2 for the one to wear number 1 next year. 72 years that the France of motorcycles has been waiting for this, it will finally be able to savor.