MotoGP: What is going on with Maverick Vinales?
Maverick Vinales continues to struggle on the Yamaha, a bike he is destined to ride until 2022.
Let’s get this straight, Maverick Vinales is not slow, he is not slow by any means, the rider is the 2013 Moto3 World Champion and had a stunning debut Moto2 season, one of the best rookie seasons which Moto2 has ever seen taking 4 x wins and 9 x podiums finishing in a comfortable P3 overall in the standings.
Vinales then moved to MotoGP with Suzuki and scored them their first race win since they returned to the class at Silverstone 2016, Maverick was hot property and a rider in high demand, so when Jorge Lorenzo left Yamaha for Ducati, Yamaha signed the rising star to replace Jorge Lorenzo.
Maverick was tipped to be the next big thing, the man to beat Marc Marquez and give him a run for his money and this worked for a little while, winning his first two races with Yamaha and leading the championship, sadly Vinales could not keep this momentum going and suffered a DNF in race three before dropping points race by race, finishing the season in third overall behind Marquez and Dovizioso with 3 x wins and 7 x podiums to his name.
Vinales’ first Yamaha win at Qatar 2017
This season would be his most successful season with Yamaha to date, taking 230 points, since then Vinales’ performances on the Yamaha have slowly dropped, scoring 193 points in 2018 with fourth overall and 211 in 2019, third overall. Winning just three races in the two seasons with Yamaha going more than a full year without a race win. Following 2018, Vinales decided to drop his number 25 and replace it with 12, saying that it will bring him more luck, going as far to covering the ’25’ with a piece of tape.
It is clear to see that Yamaha have issues, however, Vinales is more than fast enough to compete at the top, but he has built himself a reputation for being a ‘one lap man’, leading every session until race day where he fades, this was evident at Misano where he set a new lap record in qualifying, starting from pole but finishing the race in sixth place, how does this happen? He was the fastest man by a mile on Saturday but come Sunday he cannot keep up with the front.
Vinales is also often joked about with people saying he’s the ‘testing’ champion, given that he tops nearly every testing session and has done since he moved to Yamaha, leading 100% of the 2017 pre-season tests and repeating this feat in 2018.
The debut of the 12 at the 2019 pre-season test at Valencia
It seems to be a reoccurring issue for Vinales that come race day, he cannot maintain the same pace as the other during the race which if baffling and also angering the Spanish rider saying, “From the FP1 to the Q2, I’ve always been with the best. Then, on Sunday, I always end up struggling, and no one can give me an explanation. The bike doesn’t work. When we do the tests, I have a great grip, then it’s the exact opposite in the races.”
Misano was a major frustration for the ex-world champion who had no words to truly describe the race at Misano saying, “Honestly, I don’t know what to say after this race, I can’t find an answer. It’s been more or less the same situation from 30 races now. I feel bad about this GP, also because I don’t have an explanation. It’s difficult to continue to have the right motivation after these results.”
“I’ve changed my style on the bike 70 times for Yamaha, and it didn’t help. Finding an explanation for all this is really frustrating. Sometimes I hear that it depends on the tires, but that’s not the case. The bike doesn’t work, and my difficulties don’t depend on the tires.
The tires have nothing to do with it, also because I was able to go fast in the final with the tires, and they’re the same for everyone. Incidentally, the hard rear turned out to be the correct choice. The problem is the bike. It doesn’t work on Sundays and I can’t understand why. In fact, I can’t ride it with a full tank. I don’t have confidence, and I can’t even be as effective in cornering as I’d like. I have the feeling that I keep slipping all the time.”
These issues are clearly starting to play on the mind of Vinales, seemingly trying everything he can to make the Yamaha work for him on race day with no success, Franco Morbidelli winning the race at Misano will also not have helped Vinales’ mental state from the result, it is clear to see that Vinales has issues on Sunday and currently does not see a way out.
Featured image – www.motogp.com