The Frenchman however was able to hold position after that to finish in third place, helped by a crash for the Pramac Ducati of Jack Miller, leading home factory Yamaha pair Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales.
Quartararo described his Austria podium as the most “satisfying” of the three he’s earned to date in MotoGP because he “never thought” he could achieve it at a track where Yamaha’s deficiency in a straight line should have been a big penalty.
“First of all, I didn’t even expect to hold for so long against Marc and Dovi,” said Quartararo.
“I think getting a podium on a track where we were struggling really makes us impatient to arrive on a track where we could fight with them.
“That’s one of the first time I manage the tyres so well, better than in Brno, where I wasn’t on top of it. I really handled well the engine brake.
“It’s good to be able to think while I’m on the bike and to make progress little by little during the race and not only during the quali.”
He added: “Even when I was ahead, I was taking care of my rear tyre and I didn’t think I’d hold so much as we knew we were really weaker than the others in the straights.
“I managed to maintain my own rhythm and most of all, I resisted Valentino’s pressure and extended my gap lap after lap. I found myself at ease and was super-confident.”
On his prospects for the next race at Silverstone, Quartararo said: “It’s indeed a Yamaha track, much better than Austria, but we know it will be very hard too, even if the bike goes well there.
“We’ll arrive there back from a podium finish and I think this is very positive.”
Although he wasn’t the top Yamaha finisher, fourth place for Rossi marked his strongest result since he his back-to-back second places in Argentina and Texas early in the season.
Asked where he felt Quartararo had an advantage over him, Rossi said: “He suffered a bit less on the rear tyre so he can put the soft.
“Today is a good condition with the soft because it was colder than yesterday, but for me during the practice I suffered very much with the soft rear, also with the time attack.
“I think that anyway the better choice for me is the medium, but with the medium we have a little bit less grip, and also this weekend Quartararo did a fantastic job.”
Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont
Fabio Quartararo, Petronas Yamaha SRT
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images