The Monster Energy Yamaha team cemented a superb start to the 2021 season with back to back wins in Qatar. Are the Japanese squad the team to beat in 2021?
After a difficult 2020, the Yamaha team needed to bounce back in 2021. They’ve started the season with consecutive wins at the Losail circuit. Maverick Vinales took the checkered flag in race one, while Fabio Quartararo ghosted his way through the pack to win last weekend.
Yes, the Ducati bikes own a mesmeric power advantage; however, after two races, the Yamaha is the strongest bike in race conditions. In both grand-prix’s, the Yamaha’s raced their way past the opposition. After two rounds of this mammoth season, Yamaha is on top. Can it continue?
Is the Bike the Best?
After last year’s dramas with a tricky chassis, plus the engine controversy, Yamaha came into 2021 behind their competitors. On first look, the bike looked very similar. Petronas Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi claimed it was very similar to last year’s iteration.
He was correct, although the 2021 version is much more refined. Last year the riders complained about the bike being unpredictable. All riders, irrespective of the level, require confidence in the machine they are piloting. After two rounds, the new Yamaha seems much more manageable for both riders.
Maverick Vinales is notoriously pernicious for the bike setup, yet the Spaniard seems at ease with the bike. He won in round one and was very fast in round two. The bike manages its tyres better than the others and looks pretty user-friendly. Different tracks will challenge the machine differently; nevertheless, those traits above give Yamaha a base to consistently perform. That is the critical component to mounting a championship charge.
Vinales is no longer the promising youngster he was at Suzuki when he won at Silverstone. He owns an extensive bank of experience that should help maintain his speed throughout the season. The mercurial talent is incredibly quick. He is a smooth, competent rider. Sadly, the Spaniard takes too many weekends off.
His mentality and desire get questioned, specifically in the challenging moments when a rider must scrap for a result. With Marc Marquez hurt and Valentino Rossi out of the way, it’s time for Top Gun to step up.
Fabio Quartararo is a young phenomenon. As his race suit says, El Diablo shone last year as he fought for the title. His jump up to the factory team will test his endurance over the season; nonetheless, his speed is tantamount.
The Bottom Line
With two talented riders and a good bike, Yamaha is the team to beat. Lin Jarvis is a veteran campaigner, as are his team. The big question will fall to the riders. Are they good enough to sustain a year-long fight for the championship? The bike is good enough; now it’s up to the two gladiators on board.