Fabio Quartararo, the defending MotoGP title holder, has slammed the idea of holding qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix when it did because the “conditions were extremely dangerous.”
Qualifying took place on Saturday afternoon in the precipitation, with stewards waving rain flags as thunder rumbled over the Mugello circuit. Q1 started on wet tyres before switching to slicks.
The Q2 pole duel was finished on slick tyres in the end, with Gresini rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio snatching a shock first position thanks to his understanding of the questionable conditions in Q1.
Only one collision occurred during qualifying, when Marc Marquez – who declared on Saturday that Mugello would be his final race for the near future due to additional peration on his right arm – was caught out in the rain spots at the begining of Q2, causing the session to be red-flagged after his bike went up in flames.
The rapid and fluid character of the Mugello circuit, according to Quartararo, should have forced Race Direction to postpone the beginning of qualifying to enable circumstances to improve.
“This afternoon, I think the conditions were really dangerous,” the Yamaha rider, who will start Sunday’s race from sixth, said.
“It was really not a good decision to do what we did. It’s not normal to go on the track, the fastest track ever, when you don’t know if you’re going with the rain [tyre], going with the slick, you don’t know what to expect.
“Ok, we say we go with the slick and when it starts to rain you want to go with the slick [before it gets too wet].
“But in this track, we cannot wait for something to happen to postpone or to wait.
“So, for me it was not a good decision to go onto the track with the conditions that we had.
“In this track, that is such a long track, it can be wet there, dry here, and you start here and it’s dry, but then you go to one place, when you go to Turn 8 or Turn 9, the corners where you arrive close to 100km/h or more, and you flick in super-fast and you don’t know the conditions, it’s not a great feeling.”
Aleix Espargaro of Aprilia, who will begin a lap behind Quartararo, repeated the Frenchman’s remarks, adding that the stewards’ continued display of precipitation flags after the weather changed at the end of Q2 caused uncertainty.
“The qualifying was very dangerous, extremely dangerous,” Espargaro added. “For me, it was red flag. We red flag for matters of safety, no? Today was red flag.
“We have no intermediate tyres, so it was – especially the first five minutes – very scary. It was very dangerous, Casanova/Savelli, Arrabiata 1, Arrabiata 2, very dangerous.
“You have no idea what’s going to happen. And then in the second part of the qualifying, it was almost not raining anywhere, it was quite dry, that’s why the lap times were so fast. But the marshals insisted with the rain flags.
“So, I was trying to be focused on the corner, but looking to the next one to see the flags.
“If I saw no flag in the next one, I risked on the brakes. If I saw the flag, I didn’t risk.
“But sometimes you arrived to a corner and it was not raining, but they were showing the flag anyway.
“It’s difficult. You have to trust them 100% because if they show it and you go full gas and crash, it’s your fault. So, it was a very difficult qualifying.”
Luca Marini of the VR46 Ducati squad, who placed third quickest after freshman teammate Marco Bezzecchi and poleman Di Giannantonio, thought the circumstances were acceptable to race in and that no one was being pressed to run the lap times set in Q2.
“The track is difficult, was really tricky conditions,” Marini said. “But if you want to be safe, you can go slow. Nobody pushes you to make a 1m46s.
“We are the best riders in the world and you need to perform at our best, especially in these conditions because the other riders can do this. So, you need to do this if you want to stay in front.
“This was a good opportunity for us to make a good lap time and I think everybody can use these moments to make their best performance.”
Fabio Quartararo, Aleix Espargaro, Francesco Bagnaia, Grand Prix, Ducati , MOTO, Moto racing, Motocross, MotoGP, MXGP