While joining some of his rivals for a training session in Barcelona earlier this week, Maverick Vinales naturally faced questions about his MotoGP future.
Frustrated by a lack of consistency on the M1, the Qatar winner’s frustration reached rock-bottom with a last place finish at the Sachsenring.
Although back on the podium a week later at Assen, the nine-time MotoGP race winner duly confirmed a split from the Factory Yamaha team at the end of this season, halfway through his current contract.
With most MotoGP seats already occupied until 2023, Aprilia are the favourites to land Vinales for next season. However, there is also one Ducati place still available and an even the unlikely scenario of a year-out.
For now, he insists nothing has been decided.
“I’m only focused on the holidays at the moment, enjoying the summer and then coming back as strongly as possible. I haven’t thought about 2022,” Catalunya Radio quotes Vinales as saying.
The 26-year-old admitted “Aprilia has improved a lot with Aleix [Espargaro]”, but also didn’t stamp out the Ducati rumour, which has been bubbling away in the background since his shock Yamaha split.
Ducati Corse general manager Gigi Dall’Igna made a determined bid for Vinales before the Spaniard renewed with Yamaha in January 2020 and could now have the chance to sign the #12 at a fraction of the previous offer.
The problem is that only the VR46 seat is still available, but since nearly all Ducati riders are signed directly to the factory there is speculation that a reshuffle could be made to accommodate Vinales somewhere other than VR46…
Meanwhile, Vinales revealed that “everyone” has been in contact about his services for 2023, in which case might he even consider taking a year out?
“It wouldn’t be perfect, because you have to compete, it’s the most important thing. But if I’m not comfortable or I just don’t enjoy… What frustrates me the most is that I can’t give 100% [at the moment],” said Vinales, who began his MotoGP career with Suzuki.
“I prefer to be calm and enjoy life, 10 years here pass very fast. I was not enjoying anything at the circuits, and in the second half of the season I will try to enjoy more. I’ll be professional and give everything I have.”
Vinales will start the second half of his final Yamaha season holding sixth in the world championship, 61 points from new team-mate and title leader Fabio Quartararo.
“The step I took is because it doesn’t make sense to continue doing something that doesn’t work… It’s not that the bike or the equipment doesn’t work, but it’s [not working for me] and I have to look for a solution.
“I am very grateful to Yamaha for the opportunities they have given me and for what they have bet on me. We have tried. “