Vinales MotoGP crew chief splits “injured” on a personal level

Yamaha announced on Thursday that after a “mutual” breakup with Garcia, Vinales will partner with former Valentino Rossi crew chief Galbusera from the Catalans Grand Prix this weekend.

Garcia was Vinales’ Crew Chief in his title-winning Moto3 season in 2013 and became his Yamaha Crew Chief from 2019 after the Spaniard split from ex-Jorge Lorenzo Crew Chief Ramon Forcada after a similar slump.

Vinales says he hasn’t had my maximum potential in the last three or four laps as he hasn’t been on the podium since his GP win in Qatar earlier this season.

After talking to Yamaha, the Japanese brand decided to replace the Vinales crew chief, a decision he “trusts” but admits that his strong personal relationship with Garcia made it difficult.

“I spoke to Esteban about it because he’s my friend first of all,” Vinales said in Barcelona on Thursday.

“We have a very good relationship, I was often at his house and I know his wife, his daughter, I know her very well.

“Our relationship will certainly continue even if he’s not my crew chief because he’s more than just a crew chief.

“He’s one of my friends and this change hurts me too.

“On the other hand, I understand very well that we have to get the most out of it, we have our team-mate who wins and we are in the top 10.

“Of course we sometimes show a very high potential and Yamaha tries to bring me to that potential.

“It’s what we have to do, basically we have to concentrate now, find a good balance on the bike because it has been a bit difficult for the last three races.

“And keep working because we know we can.

“Somehow it was pretty unexpected and fast for me, but Yamaha wants me to give the maximum.”

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With teammate Fabio Quartararo, who won three of the first six races in 2021 and led the championship with 24 points, Vinales admits that his form by comparison means “something is wrong”.

When asked by whether his recent crew boss change meant he had no more excuses, Vinales replied, “I honestly never had excuses. I only have facts and the fact is when the bike works and I can get the most out of it to win the race.

“Well, that’s the fact. We have our teammate who wins every race and we are in the top 10, so something is not working and for example in Mugello I start in FP1 fast, normal, I felt good.

“And then, step by step, I got worse and worse. The only thing I can say is that Yamaha reacted quickly, I didn’t expect that and I trust the team very much.

“Well, I’ll trust this change and trust the path, because in the end the level is clear, the bike is fantastic and we can’t miss this opportunity because you don’t have this fantastic bike every year.

“I think Yamaha worked really hard and they invest a lot from me. So I basically trust Yamaha, I will work hard and hard as always. “