When Maverick Vinales switched from Suzuki to Yamaha in 2017, many saw the then 22-year-old Spaniard a future world champion. Vinales started the Yamaha chapter with two impressive wins before going off course. In the summer of 2021, the collaboration between Yamaha and Vinales came to a spectacular end.
Actually, the former Moto3 world champion had a valid contract until the end of 2023. This was announced in January 2020. Was it a mistake to renew the Vinales contract back then? “It’s difficult because something has developed that you couldn’t have expected,” commented Yamaha race director Lin Jarvis, who saw Vinales as the new leader of the Yamaha factory team.
The new Vinales contract was announced on January 28, 2020. A day later, Yamaha confirmed that Fabio Quartararo will ride for the works team from the 2021 season. Valentino Rossi knew even before the start of the season that 2020 would be his last season for the Yamaha factory team.
Maverick Vinales should follow in Valentino Rossi’s footsteps
“When Maverick extended his contract for another two years and Valentino left the team, we probably had the strongest driver pairing in the entire field,” says Yamaha race director Lin Jarvis.
Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi formed the Yamaha factory team from 2017 to 2020
“Maverick was driving his fifth season for us and normally should have taken a step up. He should have been team leader. Before that there was always Valentino who had a special connection and history with Yamaha. That sometimes creates a shadow in which the team-mate then stands, “explains Lin Jarvis.
Perfect start to the fifth Yamaha season
At the start of the 2021 MotoGP season, it looked like Yamaha had done the right thing. Maverick Vinales won the first race in Qatar and newcomer Fabio Quartararo prevailed in the second Qatar race.
“Maverick had a very good start to the season. If I had been asked in March or April, I would have been completely convinced by that point that we and he had made the right decision,” says Lin Jarvis.
Qatar 2021: Maverick Vinales won his last race to date
Photo: Motorsport Images
“But who could have imagined that the winner of the opening race of the ninth race would be in such a crisis that this driver wanted to leave the company even though we had secured first and second places in Assen? don’t claim that the bike wasn’t competitive or that the team wasn’t strong enough, “says the Yamaha manager.
Did Yamaha make the wrong decision in January 2020?
In the 2021 season, Fabio Quartararo won the first title for Yamaha since Jorge Lorenzo in 2015. With this, Quartararo achieved what Vinales did not achieve in the past four years.
Lin Jarvis does not see the Vinales contract extension in January 2020 as a mistake. “The decision to renew the contract with Maverick was the right one. It is so difficult. If we could make decisions where we could draw on the knowledge of the future, then we would all be very rich and probably not here. But that easy it’s not. There are some things that surprise you, “notes the Yamaha race director.
At the Sachsenring the stone gets rolling
The German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring in June was the beginning of the end of the collaboration with Vinales. After a disappointing race, Vinales made strange remarks and started the following weekend in Assen with controversial comments (on his statements).
The Spaniard agreed on the early termination of the contract at the end of the season while still in the Netherlands. At the following race in Austria, Vinales provoked his suspension by willfully turning the engine of his Yamaha M1 into the limiter. Yamaha later terminated the contract completely and brought Franco Morbidelli into the works team.
“It was difficult to deal with it because it had never happened before,” said Lin Jarvis, commenting on the confusion in the summer of 2021. “I was never in a situation like this during the season. But we dealt with it as best as possible and we are with pretty satisfied with the new constellation. “
With images from Motorsport Images.