Vinales: "Not easy" to commit to Yamaha MotoGP contract renewal

Valentin Khorounzhiy

Maverick Vinales says it was "not easy" to commit to another early MotoGP contract renewal with Yamaha, as he had an "open mind" about going elsewhere.

The 2013 Moto3 champion has long harboured championship ambitions in the top class, having won three of his first five races with Yamaha after joining from Suzuki in 2017, but has not finished higher than third in the standings and only added three more wins on the M1 bike.

He was known to be on Ducati's radar for 2021, but instead agreed another two-year deal with Yamaha, where he'll be joined next year by Fabio Quartararo, who replaces Valentino Rossi.

"It was not easy because I needed to clarify many points in Yamaha, which in the previous years I didn't really feel good [about]," Vinales said.

"But finally, I felt good in Yamaha, I felt a lot of support from Yamaha in the last months [of 2019], especially after the summer break, which also changed a little bit my mentality.

"I think now we created a strong team, and this made a lot of weight on my decision - [having] my team, my own team. I think we created a good atmosphere, which I didn't want to break, because I felt really good inside the team, and I enjoyed racing, which is the most important.

"And that was one of the biggest reasons why I stayed in Yamaha."


Vinales' crew make-up had undergone significant changes in 2019, with Esteban Garcia replacing Ramon Forcada - who Vinales had fallen out with - as crew chief, while Julian Simon was added as his rider performance analyst.

Vinales felt that the changes had increasingly started to pay off during last season, and has had his belief in challenging for the title with Yamaha reinforced by the M1's improved performances at the end of the year, resulting in a dominant victory in Malaysia.

"I had an open mind [about leaving]," he admitted.

"Finally, I said previously that this year is a good opportunity for me, because we improved a lot, I feel I have my team and I'm fully committed to be ready to fight for the championship.

"And I feel now I'm ready, physically, mentally, with the team. I think we can do it.

"I was not really thinking, to move or not to move. I was thinking - okay, if Yamaha prefers this, I will move, if Yamaha doesn't prefer this, I will wait.

"But finally I felt good support from Yamaha, and we went to the factory, [saw] very positive things, and after we signed the contract."

Get unlimited access to the world’s best motorsport journalism with Autosport Plus