Maverick Vinales did everything possible to secure a podium from new MotoGP title leader Joan Mir at the end of the Aragon Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Monster Yamaha rider led the first seven laps of the race before being moved to fourth at the middle distance when he started battling for rear grip.
But Vinales was then surprised when he put up a late charge and chased Mir to land just 0.266 seconds off the GSX-RR, famous for its speed at the end of a race.
“We took the maximum out of the bike today,” said Vinales. “The Suzuki and Honda had more impact on banking. I didn’t expect them to be that fast.
“When they passed me, I saw that they were better. We have to work more. We know that we can’t make our weak points strong, but we can make our strengths stronger.”
The Spaniard, who is now only six points away from Fabio Quartararo and twelve from Mir, was surprised that his own speed had lost ground after half a dozen laps in the late race.
On the subject of matching items
“Honestly the front tire was good. My problem was the rear tire. After 5 or 6 laps there was a big drop on the left side,” he said.
While Quartararo dropped to 18th place due to increasing tire pressure, Vinales wondered if something similar had happened to his rear tire.
“I wasn’t expecting this drop from the tire. I haven’t had that all weekend. We have to understand. Was the pressure too high? Is that why it caused this drop on the back?” [grip], especially when entering the country?
On the subject of matching items
“I lost the rear when I retracted and couldn’t keep the cornering speed. I lost a lot of traction over the first few meters as well.”
But Vinales’ last lap was a scorching time of 1: 49.092 minutes, faster than on lap 4 and better than any other driver at the end of the race. The Misano winner was 0.8 seconds faster than Mir on this last lap and 0.2 seconds better than race winner Alex Rins (Suzuki).
“I couldn’t do that [early] Speed again in the 48s, but somehow I was able to do 49.0s again at the end of the race, so we have to understand why. Maybe I changed my driving style over the last few laps. Adopt the strengths of the Yamaha.
“I did the last two laps and closed my eyes. I wanted a chance to push Joan so he might make a mistake. But he was pretty much under control. I tried. It was good, I had the a little more on the last laps. That’s good for the next races.
Vinales, who raised his eyebrows by revealing that he believed he could improve his starts – often the weakest point of his race – by turning off the start controls, had passed Quartararo to take the holeshot at turn one on Sunday.
“Big applause! I started first! I’m so happy!” he was joking. “I did it [the launch control] Electronics. The first corner is very close here so it’s easier to get off to a good start. “
Yamaha’s best rider in the World Championship for the first time this season, Vinales said his main focus for next weekend’s Aragon event will be to further improve the Yamaha’s strengths.
“To me it looks like every time we try to fix the weak spots, we’re not going to make a good race,” he said. “If we focus on cycling, we’re doing well. Every time we try to explore something, we miss laps on the track.
“So we have to focus on the DNA of Yamaha and try to make the strengths stronger. This is cornering speed, front stability and the question of whether the lap times are better or not.”
“I think we just focused on the driving style this weekend. We forget the grip and the tires. I only used S compounds to get a lot of cornering speed. It seems to be working. I’m happy and confident for them next race.
“Certainly the bike is fantastic over a lap. But our competitors have improved too. Honda found a way to make Alex and Nakagami fast and they are now our opponents too.”
Vinales is the only Monster Yamaha rider in Aragon. Teammate Valentino Rossi had to stay at home after a positive Covid test the evening before this weekend.