Viñales: Sensational early exit from Yamaha ‘an option’

Maverick Viñales. Picture:

Maverick Viñales has given credence to rumours that he could split from Yamaha halfway through his current MotoGP contract, admitting it is “an option”.

The Spaniard was the subject of multiple reports from his native country’s press over the weekend that he will exit Yamaha to join Aprilia at season’s end.

Viñales’ latest re-signing with the Iwata marque was announced in January 2020, with that deal covering the years 2021 and 2022.

The 26-year-old did finish second in the weekend’s Dutch TT and won Round 1 in Qatar, but those are his only podiums of the season to date and #12’s average finishing position is 7.6.

He is sixth in the standings, 61 points behind championship-leading team-mate Fabio Quartararo, who picked up a fourth win of the campaign at Assen.

Viñales is also onto his second crew chief of the season, and third since arriving at the team in 2017, after Yamaha chose to replace Esteban Garcia with former Valentino Rossi man Silvano Galbusera.

According to both Marca and AS, the nine-time premier class race winner is seeking to get out of Yamaha, with Aprilia a likely destination.

The latter of those outlets even claims that a deal has already been reached with the Noale manufacturer, although Viñales denies that.

What he has affirmed after the race at Assen is that a split from his current employer is a live option.

“No it’s not true,” Viñales responded when asked by DAZN about the Aprilia switch.

“Now, for the moment we go to the summer break and we’ll see.

“Of course, it’s an option,” he added, in reference to a Yamaha exit.

“I’m thinking about it since the beginning of the season, because I’m not able to show my full potential. I can’t tell you more.”

Viñales won his first two races with Yamaha, and three of his first five, but has also gone missing during grands prix alarmingly often.

He beat Quartararo by relatively slim margins in the 2019 and 2020 season, #20’s first two in the premier class, and both spent at Yamaha satellite team SRT.

However, it was Franco Morbidelli who trumped them both, on the older ‘A-spec’ M1, by finishing runner-up to Suzuki’s Joan Mir last year.

Viñales, who qualified 21st and was last finisher a week earlier at Germany’s Sachsenring, claims that his situation has been an ongoing “nightmare” due to Yamaha’s apparent inability to respond to his feedback.

The potential implications of an early exit have been compared to Johann Zarco’s split from KTM during 2019, with the Frenchman now flourishing at Pramac Racing on a Ducati contract.

Said Viñales about that in the post-race press conference, “I think for sure the benefit… it’s difficult to have a benefit from a situation like this.

“I just get difficulties. Somehow, I started to feel that when I come to races it started to be a nightmare because I have for like three years the same comments.

“So, you can take the notes and it’s exactly the same comments three years in a row. I just want to take out the maximum [from myself], I just want to come to races to really race and give everything I have.

“And right now it’s difficult. When I come to a race, I just say, ‘What problem am I going to have in this race?’ This is a problem, so I just want to come here, give the maximum and see where we are.

“Zarco did that [quit KTM] but I’m not following any rider. I will just follow my feelings.

“For sure, in Sachsenring I wanted to go home on Friday because it was a desperate weekend where I explained well everything but we were not able to improve.

“So, here, thank God I had grip, the track is good, the track adapted more or less to the bike.”

Viñales’ current struggles, although arguably worse than before, are hardly new.

He admitted that he was surprised to even land his current contract.

“I think I have a really good relationship with Yamaha Japan,” he added.

“I think they are great, with the president, the guys on all these things.

“They put a lot of enthusiasm and courage [into me], so I was pretty… when they signed me again in 2020, I was pretty like ‘What?’ because I could not give my maximum, I tell the team that I’m not giving up and I don’t know why I’m not able [to give my maximum].

“And they signed me again for two more years, and for the point where I am now I don’t understand why.”

MotoGP is now on its summer break, ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix on August 6-8 at the Red Bull Ring.

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