Never meet your heroes, but how will you replace them? For many people, Valentino Rossi is a living legend of MotoGP and an absolute inspiration on the track. His legacy endures despite a rather lackluster season, and living up to his legend has fellow Yamaha racer, Fabio Quartararo, a little overwhelmed.
In his rookie year in 2019, Quartararo managed to score seven podium finishes and six pole positions. The young racer was then signed by Yamaha's factory race team at the start of 2021, effectively making him Maverick Vinales' teammate, as he was also retained for the season. This decision, however, came at the expense of Valentino Rossi, who went with the brand for a fifteen-year run. During that time, Rossi won four out of seven premier class titles with the Japanese manufacturer.
Currently, Quartararo is in top shape this season, bagging four races—Doha, Portugal, Italy, and the Netherlands. As the standings sit, Quartararo has a 34-point lead as the GP heads into the summer break.
When asked about the pressure, Quartararo said that he hasn't felt any added pressure since stepping up at Yamaha, however, he admitted that the responsibility of taking Rossi's place was "big."
Quartararo said also stated: "Yes, I think for me about the pressure, I think it becomes something normal."
“I think I had pressure all my life and right now I feel it’s something normal. So, let’s say I’m used to it."
“For sure there will arrive a moment where it’s much more if you are fighting in one race for the championship but, at the moment, I feel the pressure is the same and normal."
“And the responsibility is huge. Taking the place of Valentino, everyone was waiting for me to make great results and everything."
“But I’m there, I think I’m doing a really great job and I feel that the team is happy about not only me but about my crew, about the way we are working, the atmosphere in the team in both sides with the mechanics is good."
“So, all the team is working on a proper way, and I think this is helping a lot.”
Quartararo is also no stranger to some mental struggle. In 2020, the racer sought some mental help from a psychologist to help stay calm. So far, the results are showing, and he continues to show promise, even with some of the biggest shoes to fill.