That was quite a step, considering Morbidelli had been 103 points behind his then title leading team-mate at the same stage of 2022.

But their results then began to divulge again during the second half of this season.

While Quartararo went on to claim three podiums and tenth in the world championship, Morbidelli slipped to 13th and didn’t better his early-season fourth place in Argentina.

The final points tally for the M1 riders was 172-102 in Quartararo’s favour.

“This year I felt that I had a chance to be the best Yamaha and sincerely for the first half of the season we did well and were in that battle,” reflected Morbidelli, who was informed that Alex Rins would take his 2024 place during the summer break.

“But [things changed] in the second half of the season. Maybe the [Rins] announcement, maybe some other things that happened inside the team and so on.

“But Fabio I think was able to make an awesome job in the second half of the season. Practically flawless.”

Morbidelli felt the former MotoGP champion made the difference by squeezing just enough from the M1 to get directly into Qualifying 2 on a Friday.

“I think that just the other side [of the pit box] did a better job and were able to go from struggling to get into Qualifying 2 just as much as us in the first half of the season - when we were also able to outqualify Fabio - to stepping it up in the second half and we were not able to.

“Fabio’s been able to just make it to Qualifying 2 directly, do just enough on Friday to get into the top ten, and that made him do a hell of a second half of the season.

“We were not able to get directly into Qualifying 2 and we suffered with that, so that gap [between the Yamaha riders] spread out a bit more.

“But definitely I felt like I gave it a shot and I feel the speed, especially in race pace, was always there.

“But when you start 14th it’s very unlikely that you are going to catch up on a Fabio starting 5th, 6th or 7th.

“Anyway, I learned a lot and I was able to be fast [again] this year and that’s a good feeling.”

Former title runner-up Morbidelli, who had been just 19th in the 2022 world championship, was also the only rider to reach the finish of every Sprint and Grand Prix race this season.

The Italian, 29, will move to Pramac Ducati and ride the latest version of the title winning Desmosedici in 2024.