Now an exciting transfer is on the way. With Andrea Dovizioso (35) looking too expensive for Aprilia, Maverick Viñales could get off Yamaha early and switch to the Italians.
During his four-and-a-half years at Yamaha on the MotoGP factory team, Maverick Viñales has met expectations on and off. He is considered the world champion in training and has so far won nine MotoGP races with the M1. He is miles away from the achievements of his predecessor Jorge Lorenzo (world champion 2020, 2012 and 2015).
The relationship with Yamaha has broken down for many reasons. Vinales finished second in the first two races at Jerez in 2020, but then fell back into the depression phase. Yamaha’s valve scandal bothered him as well, as he even had to use a sixth engine and start out of the pit lane once.
In the year longtime contender Marc Marquez was absent, Vinales took just one win. Morbidelli and Quartararo have both won three Petronas customer team bikes. Morbidelli even finished the previous year as vice world champion, Vinales not finishing sixth at the World Cup.
The fact that of all people the young out-of-doors rider and Suzuki MotoGP World Champion Joanne Mer, who turned down the Suzuki GSX-RR Maverick after 2015 and 2016 (with its victory in England), made it tough for the Yamaha rider.
In 2021, Vinales is 40 points behind his new teammate Quartararo after eight World Cup races.
Vinales recently said he would think twice about team changes in the future. He was clearly referring to a move to Movistar-Yamaha before the 2017 season.
After a complaint from Yamaha, he tried to straighten the picture. He said he was referring to the 2012 Moto3. But no one believes that.
Yesterday, Viñales stated that Yamaha only competes four times a year.
This statement also has no meaning. As Morbidelli was vice world champion in 2020, Quartararo is the world championship leader in 2021, Yamaha has already achieved six pole positions in nine races this year, and M1 won seven of 14 races in 2020.
At Yamaha, the bosses are smoking now. Race Director Lynn Jarvis and Team Principal Massimo Merigali (“Maverick is an expensive driver, we have to push it forward”) have been searching in vain for solutions so far.
On Friday, Vinales simply refrained from speaking to reporters at Assen.
You don’t have to be a prophet to guess: Like Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol-Honda) and Johann Zarco (KTM) in 2019, Viñales’ two-year contract could now be prematurely terminated.
Massimo Rivola said on Thursday that Aprilia could already expect a surprise dissolution for the 2022 season at the Assen weekend that has nothing to do with Andrea Dovizioso. It’s about Alex Espargaro’s new teammate.
This surprise may have something to do with Vinales, as we heard at the Assen Arena.
Rivola stated on Thursday that in parallel to the test drive of Misano with Dovizioso, Aprilia Racing is taking further measures to find the best solutions for the two drivers in 2022. “In addition to Andrea, we have other interesting and valid alternatives on the table. A decision must be made soon. This will enable our team to properly plan the future strategy. In this regard, the weekend in Assen will be very important,” Rivola said a few days ago.
At the time, he was still presumably in contact with Moto2 riders like Joe Roberts or Aaron Kanye.
If Maverick leaves Vinales, Yamaha will likely transfer Franco Morbidelli to the staff and bring in a great talent like Toprak Razgatlioglu, Garrett Gerloff or a fast Moto2 racer to Petronas.
SPEEDWEEK.com also reported in May that Petronas-Yamaha wanted to steer fast Moto2 rookie Raul Fernandez of Red Bull-KTM-AjoTeam to the 2022 MotoGP World Championships. But the Spaniard has so far confirmed he wants to run the Moto2 World Championship again in Ajo -KTM in 2022.
KTM could offer the Moto2 title contender a runner-up position alongside Remy Gardner in the 2022 KTM Tech3 MotoGP Team. However, this deal is currently only planned for 2023.
Yamaha racing directors Lin Jarvis and Massimo Meregalli did not want to comment on the sensitive topic today at Assen.
You can imagine that during negotiations with Vinales’ veteran manager Paco Sanchez, the bosses are now smoking.