The Yamaha rider was expected to fight for victory on Sunday at Le Mans having shown the strongest race pace all weekend throughout the practice sessions.
But he got a poor launch from fourth on the grid and struggled to overtake, dropping to eighth at one point and eventually recovered to sixth – before several crashes ahead of him gifted him fourth.
Though he remains in the lead of the championship by four points from Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, Quartararo says the fact he cannot make any mistakes on the 2022 Yamaha means he cannot be considered a favourite for the title.
“No, I’m not the favourite by far,” he said when asked if he thought he was still the leading title contender.
“The only thing I can do is make no mistakes. If I make no mistakes I can be there, because our pace in every GP we go – apart from a few like Austin and Qatar – looking at the pace of Jerez, with Pecco [Bagnaia] we were the fastest.
“Here in the pace, for me I was the fastest. But as soon as you make a small mistake, you are gone.
“I remember one race last year when Pecco started one race in Portimao in P11, he was able to make overtakes.
“In the second race I was in the same situation in P6, and I stayed in P6. I don’t know what I can do, to be honest, because I am pushing myself to the limit.
“I am on the limit everywhere. But I cannot even try.
“This is the most frustrating thing. You are in the last lap, and even if you are one centimetre behind they accelerate and pull away.
“And then you lose one tenth. This is why I don’t feel the favourite this year.”
Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Quartararo added that fourth at Le Mans was not his “real” position and felt lucky to have seen both Suzuki riders and long-time leader Bagnaia crash out of strong results.
“I don’t feel happy about my race at all,” he added.
“I had three crashes in front of me, I cannot be happy about the race because my real position is not fourth – it’s much further back.
“And it’s not because of the pace, because if you check in all of the practices we had the best pace.
“But then you are in a position where you don’t have a clear track or you are not able to overtake, then it’s finished.
“And this is why I was not even angry because I’ve got a little bit used already about that.
“What is sure, I give always 100%, but I gave everything today and I had one moment where I almost lost the front at the last corner, Aleix took a half-second gap and in five corners I was already behind. So, in terms of speed I was fast.”