MotoGP rookie Fabio Quartararo has revealed that he turned his bike engine settings into qualifying mode during the French Grand Prix in a bid to recover from a poor start.
Quartararo had been one of the quickest drivers in the build-up to the race, topping the first practice session and the warm-up before gambling on slicks in a wet-dry qualifying session and failing to improve his time on wet tyres.
The Petronas SRT Yamaha rider slipped from 10th on the grid to 17th after a mistake trying to pass Maverick Vinales and then struggled to overtake riders that had bunched up in the early stages.
Quartararo then showed a rapid turnaround in pace in the second half of the race by switching to “time attack mapping” and recovered to eighth and 1.3s behind team-mate Franco Morbidelli.
“Today I did something that I normally shouldn’t do, I put the [bike into] time attack mapping during the race,” Quartararo said.
“I said ‘OK, let’s see what happens’ – and if I destroy the tyre, it will be my problem.
“When I overtook [Alex] Rins [on lap 15 of 27], I put the time attack mode [on] and then I pushed a lot to the limit.
“It was not a big difference, it was small changes, maybe on acceleration, the bike was spinning [its tyres] a little bit more but I can control it a little bit.
“Physically it was really tough to ride and it was lucky that the race had finished.”
Quartararo said he did not want to think about what his result would have been had he made a better start.
“I think the top five [was possible],” he said.
“For me, the goal was same as before.
“Top eight was the goal but, of course, with this pace, I want more.
“It was as a shame in the first laps, my start was really bad, and it was really difficult to overtake the guys [ahead] but I think it was six riders in one second, so for me, it was really difficult.”
Quartararo said the French GP taught him to ride a bike at a fast pace without stressing the tyres.
“The biggest thing I learned was how to save the tyre and I think I found something [useful],” he said.
“At the beginning of the year I was finding lap time in acceleration by pushing like hell and the bike was sliding a lot, now I am doing the [same] lap time in a different way.
“Not really [the same pace] on the acceleration but more in corner speed and braking.
“Now this is what I learned during the race and it is only our fifth race, so I hope to learn every time when things are like this, but I’m really happy about what we did this GP.”