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Much has been said in the past about Honda's dependence on Marc Márquez. The bike with the golden wing was only manageable by the eighth Spanish champion, so when he has missed the Honda results they have plummeted to all-time lows. But little is said about that Yamaha in 2021 is in a pretty similar situation.
Fabio Quartararo's season has been pristine, combining speed, risk and consistency. That is why he has been proclaimed champion two races in advance, but, with the crown already in place, the error has arrived: in Portimao it happened Quartararo's first fall in 2021, and as a result it has delivered the worst race for Yamaha in the last 26 years.
Quartararo has added 243 of the 298 points of Yamaha in the world of brands
At the Algarve Grand Prix, Yamaha only scored five points. In addition to the fall of Quartararo, Franco Morbidelli finished in last position, out of the points and suffering from his physical problems. Valentino Rossi was thirteenth and a spot behind was finished by his teammate, Andrea Dovizioso.
The last time Yamaha had such a disastrous career as this was at the 1995 Malaysian Grand Prix, at the old Shah Alam circuit, where the best official Yamaha was Jeremy McWilliams, who finished fourteenth and doubled. And it has a trick, because there was a renamed Yamaha from a private team in ninth place.
So far this season Quartararo had been the best Yamaha in all but three races: the opening event in Qatar, where Maverick Viñales won, the Jerez race, in which Quartararo was going to win but his forearm betrayed him, and the famous Barcelona monkey race, where Viñales was one place ahead.
Portimao is fourth, but Yamaha's best result was Valentino Rossi's thirteenth place. This has meant that mathematically Ducati be champion of the world of brands, and championship in which, with the exceptions made, Quartararo had carried all the weight of Yamaha. 243 of the 298 points they have.
Yamaha started the season with a very strong rider lineup, with Viñales and Morbidelli accompanying Quartararo and the hope that Rossi would hunt down a good result. But he has ended up with an out-of-tune Andrea Dovizioso, a Rossi who has definitely hung up his helmet and Morbidelli injured.
Unlike the problem of Honda, what fails in Yamaha is not the motorcycle but the riders. By 2022 at least Morbidelli is expected to regain 100% fitness, but in the new RNF Racing the drama will continue: it is difficult that Dovizioso is going to offer too much performance, and Rossi's replacement is Darryn Binder, from whom you can expect the same speed but without charisma or experience.