MotoGP 2022, German Grand Prix, results, analysis, Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha, Jack Miller, Ducati, Honda, Marc Marquez

There is a very familiar feeling in all of this.

Fabio Quartararo has cultivated a comfortable championship lead at the top of the standings not by sheer speed but by sheer force of will.

Ducati has the fastest bike but nominated challenger Francesco Bagnaia can’t help but get rid of it at deeply inopportune times.

Honda continues to struggle without Marc Márquez.

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It’s like every key storyline of the season is suddenly brought to the fore at the German Grand Prix, and with the race meaning mid-season and with the mid-season break just one lap away, it’s going to take something special to take the sport out of its rhythm with free time to make a difference in the outcome.

CONSTANCE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS

It’s a funny thing. Fabio Quartararo has only won three races this season, but he feels like he’s been winning almost all year.

Maybe it’s a mental reflex from his 2021 campaign, or maybe it’s just the way he absolutely controls the races when he’s in the lead, so you can hardly imagine anyone else rolls in front of him. His complaints that his bike was not fit to defend his title go back eons.

This is an illusion supported by the title’s ranking. The Frenchman isn’t even clear at the top of the win tally this season, but holds a 34-point advantage over Aleix Espargaró and a 61-point lead over Johann Zarco. The other three-time winner in the peloton, Enea Bastianini, is 72 points behind.

And they are good runners that he beats, just like Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller and Brad Binder and the others. But inevitably, all those other runners leave percentages on the table – or, in Pecco’s case, in the gravel.

In Catalonia, before his catastrophic misjudgment, Espargaró admitted he had the pace of his bike and tires to battle for victory, but misjudged the amount of tire-killing management needed around the track. . Quartararo no.

Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFPSource: AFP

This weekend, when tire choice was critical but difficult in the sweltering European heatwave, Quartararo backed up his instincts and stuck to what he had learned from his consistently methodical training. Others got it wrong and over-thought in the warm-up or even on the way to the grid. Quartararo understood, the others didn’t.

And then, of course, you put it all in the context of the second-best Yamaha rider finishing 13th and nearly half a minute behind—about a second per lap—and you realize Quartararo makes the difference.

It’s not about wins, points or first-place starts. It’s just Fabio.

“For me the problem is not the points – 34 points is not that much,” said Espargaró. “The problem is that he is always faster than me on Sunday.

“Fabio won easily. So the problem is that on Sunday he is faster than me. I have to find speed.

PECCO BAGNAIA AND THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE PERFORMANCE

Aleix Espargaró is the only man with a realistic championship cry given the points picture. Two laps ago, Francesco Bagnaia was looming as a possible threat after winning the Italian Grand Prix, but two crashes in as many races have completely extinguished that hope.

Pecco has had four DNFs in 10 races this season, the worst equal tally of the year with Joan Mir, whose feeling on the Suzuki is dejected, and Jorge Martin, who until last week was riding with nerve damage in his arm right.

That left him sixth in the standings with 81 points. That’s less than half of Quartararo’s 172 points at the top of the standings.

If his crash last time out at Barcelona didn’t dash his title hopes – the only crash that wasn’t his fault – then this one surely did. It’s mathematically possible for him to come back from here, but the situation is completely out of his control now.

Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFPSource: AFP

It’s hard to know what’s most frustrating about the situation.

There’s the fact that Bagnaia is clearly getting levels of performance out of its GP22 that most of the rest of the Ducati stable cannot. Luca Marini, who finished an excellent fifth, said before the race that he did not understand how Pecco extracted so much cornering speed from a bike traditionally uncomfortable on this kind of circuit, the factory rider having dominated the weekend until Sunday.

Then there’s the fact that Bagnaia seems to have rekindled the accident-prone mannerisms he seemed to have left behind after being promoted to the factory team last season.

Or maybe it’s because he finds new ways to knock out his dominating qualifying performances on Sunday – so much so that even Bagnaia himself was confused as to how his run ended in stones .

“Of course if I crashed it was because I made a mistake,” he said. “But in this situation, it is very difficult to know why, to understand why. Looking at the data, it is impossible to understand things.

” I can not explain it. I’m very angry about that. Because when you crash and you know why it’s your mistake, normally I’m very self-critical. But today, I can’t be.

On the bike, there is no doubt that Bagnaia has the speed to take on this championship. He’s just not on the bike enough to do it.

Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFPSource: AFP

THE PRESSURE IS MADE FOR JACK

Jack Miller’s grueling and exhilarating run from penalty to podium was surely one of his best for the grandstand, and it’s no coincidence that it came just a week after he announced his switch from KTM to next season.

More than confirming its immediate future, it also ended the endless string of one-year contracts that Ducati has continued to offer, not to mention the lackluster satellite offer it has made for the next year that finally convinced him to move.

Miller has always insisted he was able to shrug off the constant speculation that accompanies those one-year deals, but there’s no denying they irritated him – after all, he was hardly afraid of to express displeasure at being perpetually out of sync with the general pace of the runner market.

Suddenly, not only was he able to play a major role in the silly season by making his own move to a factory team, but he did so with the security of his long-awaited two-year contract.

The pressure is finally off and it’s amazing what confidence can do for an athlete.

His battle with Aleix Espargaró for a place on the podium underlined the Australian’s mood. Lap after lap he tested and teased the Spaniard’s defenses until the mistake was made. It would be an overstatement to say that Miller was precise in his forward forays – he braked several times looking for that opening – but he never seemed out of control like he sometimes does, including this season, when he tries to advance. across the field.

Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFPSource: AFP

“The whole race I was chasing someone or being chased so it was pretty intense. Even with that it was fun because my confidence was high the whole time,” Miller wrote on his website. .

“I’m now really looking forward to the races coming up, because it’s really fun when you can ride with confidence and attack the corners like I was able to do here.”

He rides for himself now – not in a selfish sense or to ignore the team but as a rider with nothing to prove as he looks to close this chapter of his career in style.

It will be fascinating to watch for the rest of the year.

HONDA ATTACKS AT THE BOTTOM

There was some good news for Honda last week, but unfortunately it didn’t make it to the track.

Marc Márquez, still relatively fresh from his fourth episode of surgery to rectify issues with the arm he broke in 2020, is making good progress in his recovery. He is not in pain despite the immobilization of his arm and he is beginning controlled exercises which he will undertake next month.

And that’s where the good news began and ended for Honda, as there was nothing worth writing about in Germany, where the once-conquering Japanese brand had its worst weekend in 40 years.

The manufacturer fielded four drivers at the German Grand Prix. None of them scored a point.

CRL’s Alex Márquez and Takaaki Nakagami both crashed out, Pol Espargaró retired in pain after his big highside in training. Marc Márquez’s replacement, Stefan Bradl, was seeded miserable 16th and suffered burns to his hands and feet due to some heat protection experiments undertaken by the team.

Since the 1981 French Grand Prix, Honda has failed to score a point with at least one driver, although on that occasion all three of its drivers retired as part of a safety protest. His last non-score under usual circumstances was in the Dutch TT of 1981.

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Honda is last in the constructors’ standings, 12 points behind the withdrawing Suzuki team and 140 points behind the lead Ducati bike. He has only one podium to his credit for the whole season, that of Pol Espargaró, which you may remember from the dawn of time that was the season-opening Grand Prix in Qatar. He’s only had one top five finish since then.

This is both the peak and the nadir of the all-in-on-Marc strategy.

At the end of the season, Pol Espargaró is almost certain to leave the team. Taka Nakagami seems destined to be replaced. Alex Márquez’s future remains under a cloud.

Only the rider who can’t physically ride a bike is guaranteed a spot next season, and that’s because the team needs him. Like Quartararo at Yamaha, he is the only one capable of decoding the machine. Without him, the team faces a long, painful and sometimes useless reconstruction.

Thank goodness, then, for that slice of good news at the end of last week.

Wiley C. Thompson