Ahead of the season, Yamaha had to drop its planned 2022 engine due to reliability issues, which meant it had to race an engine with similar power to its 2021 bike.
That, plus traction issues, has made for a tough campaign for all of the Yamaha riders, with Franco Morbidelli, Darren Bender, Andrea Dovizioso and Crutchello, who have replaced him in the RNF for the past six races, scoring just 79 points in total compared to Fabio Quartararo’s 248
Yamaha was the only manufacturer other than Suzuki in 2022 to have only one rider on the podium, with Quartaro winning three times—two fewer than in 2021—and ultimately not being able to defend his title.
The competitive landscape in MotoGP has shifted in 2022, with European manufacturers taking over the Japanese as the dominant marques.
As a result, the Japanese manufacturers’ labor practices in 2022 have been criticized, even though Yamaha has been working with former Formula 1 engine chief Luca Marmorini to help develop its 2023 bike.
Crutchlow, who was a key development figure for Honda during his LCR tenure from 2015 to his retirement in 2020, says Yamaha has “really upped their game” in how it operates this year.
“Yamaha, no, I haven’t seen them work that hard,” Crutchlow said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com.
Cal Crutchlow, RNF Speedway
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“And they work hard. Up until last year, they were working hard with testing.
“But Honda, I was racing and doing testing and I was doing 100 laps a day.
“But from Yamaha’s point of view, they’ve upped their game with it, you know, and it’s great to see that because I talked to Fabio the two days in testing [at Jerez before the Valencia GP] And I told him what we were trying.
And he said, ‘At least they bring something whether it works or not.’ And it’s true, at least they’re excited to try things. Whether they work or not, it doesn’t matter.
“I have to assess if that’s the case or not, but they work very hard and that’s always a positive thing.”
Crutchlow was positive about the latest iteration of the 2023 Yamaha engine when he tested it in Jerez before the Valencia GP.
However, in post-race testing in Valencia on the Tuesday after the Grand Prix, Quartararo and teammate Franco Morbidelli were left baffled and “disappointed” by the fact that the new engine didn’t seem to be producing more power.
After testing the first version of this engine at Misano in September, Quartararo was more optimistic about the engine.