When the covers were first removed from the 2023 Monster Energy Yamahas, the new bikes looked pretty similar to what we’re used to.
But closer examination reveals a design that features some key changes from the past – and with these updates inspired (according to team boss Lin Jarvis) by a desire to be more aggressive, it perhaps reflects more the shift in mentality the team is going through bring the coming season than meets the eye.
The new colors were unveiled at Yamaha Indonesia’s dealer event on Tuesday, where Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli flew to Jakarta for the launch and showed off a look that departs from their previous Monster Energy design.
Instead of the traditional, albeit somewhat understated, blue and black pinstripes the bikes have sported since Monster replaced Spanish telecoms brand Movistar as title sponsor, the bikes will instead adopt an urban camouflage look from veteran designer Aldo Drudi, which Jarvis says caters to it is to be more modern and aggressive as part of the team’s renewed deal with the American beverage company.
â€œWe have this very strong relationship with Monster Energy,â€ he explained, â€œand they are very well known for their sports marketing, their brand and their values.
“That suits Yamaha perfectly. We had a multi-year deal with them that we just renewed and that’s really important.
“I always felt that our previous bike was the nicest and cleanest in the racing world, but now you’ll find it’s a little bit more aggressive, a little bit younger.
“You can see a certain camouflage feel, and that’s no coincidence. The idea is to be aggressive: we will fight, we will go to war. We will challenge.â€
While on the one hand it might be nothing more than a marketing move meant to appeal to a younger demographic, in this perhaps somewhat awkward metaphor for the team’s plans for 2023 lies the reality of what Yamaha needs to do to find success in the dried up very badly in the second half of 2022, costing Quartararo the chance to defend his title.
Yamaha has for too long repeated its mistakes over and over, even when a string of star riders stretching back to Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have told it what it needs to do differently.
It hasn’t managed to shake off the image of a rather conservative Japanese brand, slow to adapt to change and unable to keep up with the agile development work we’ve seen in recent seasons from rival Ducati in particular.
The key to Yamaha’s return to winning ways lately has been that it will be as much about changing that corporate mentality as it is about building a faster bike.
We’ve already seen other signs: the addition of former Ferrari and Toyota Formula 1 boss Luca Marmorini as head of development in this area was a big sign that the orthodoxy is on the fence amid a rather bleak end to 2022 and ever-louder calls Quartararo was particularly shaken for a future faster and more powerful engine.
We also know from the testing Yamaha has already completed that Marmorini’s arrival appears to have made a difference, with both riders at the Misano and Valencia tests feeling pleased, if not delighted, that things are looking up ahead of an all-important test outing moving in the right direction Sepang in a month.
Of course, to say that a fresh coat of paint means a major culture change might be a leap too far.
But when it comes – and more importantly, with Jarvis’ comments at the launch event – it at least hints at a team keen to make up for how far they’ve fallen behind their rivals of late.
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