<
>

Rossi out, Quartararo in: Have Monster Yamaha found the final piece of the puzzle?

Having already seen one former outstanding prospect come along and fail to lead them to victory, Monster Yamaha would be hoping the arrival of Fabio Quartararo would be the final piece of their world championship puzzle in 2021.

Maverick Vinales was tipped for greatness in the previous campaigns but the 26-year-old Spanish rider did not deliver, especially in 2020 after winning just once, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and claiming podium finishes three times. He eventually finished sixth in the charts.

This year, the Yamaha factory team injected youth into their ranks with the up-and-coming Quartararo, who will try to replace legendary rider Valentino Rossi.

The experience of "The Doctor" will surely be missed but his departure paves the way for Quartararo to takes his career to the next stage with the Yamaha factory team.

The Frenchman might be a raw talent, but he is definitely a burgeoning force despite being just 21 years old. In his premier class debut in 2019, Quartararo won MotoGP's Rookie of the Year award before following up last season with three races victories -- including at the first two Grands Prix of the season that initially saw him loom as a hot favourite for the world championship.

Monster Yamaha hopes the new challenger could also push Vinales to deliver consistently, after failing to hit anticipated heights.

With Vinales and Quartararo, a new era beckons for Monster Yamaha, but will it be one that ends with them finally winning the world championship in 2021?

What they said

Fabio Quartararo: "I'm excited to start the new season, especially because I'm in a new team. Throughout my career I have always been moving from team to team -- I like this. It's exciting to work with new people and learn new things."

Maverick Vinales: "Yeah I think we worked quite well during these days [during testing] and we tried many things, which is important I think. But at the end of the day I think we understand quite well what we have, and where we are right now, and where we need to go.

"The behaviour of the bike is really nice, it is handling really well which is really important and it is working really well on a full fuel tank.

"We know we need to still improve the start and we need to improve a few things on the bike which takes time, but we will work. Anyway I think the direction is good this year."

As the lights go out...

"This is a huge year for the factory Yamahas as they start a new Rossi-less chapter in their history," says FOX Sports Asia MotoGP presenter Edward Russell. "And it will be a huge year for two young men who last year saw their championship hopes end in a whimper.

"The key to success for both Vinales and Quartararo this time around will be the ability to stay composed and grind out results when things don't go their way, and to that end I expect an improvement in that department from the Frenchman at least, given the now extra experience and the addition of a sports psychologist to his team.

"The other big question mark will be whether Yamaha have fixed the engine issues that plagued the Iwata marque last year - if those remain, it's very hard to see the team challenging for the championship once again. "

2021 will be a success if: The new collaboration between Vinales and Quartararo comes to fruition and ends the team's five-year wait for a title.