Vinales “in a different league” in Qatar MotoGP

Vinales was behind Quartararo in the opening stages of the season opener on Sunday at Losail, but fought his way through from sixth place at the end of the first lap, overtaking four Ducatis and Quartararo to claim victory.

Quartararo disappeared from the podium finish in fifth by the checkered flag after seeing a drop in rear tire grip that he hadn’t seen at all on the 2021 Yamaha.

The Frenchman noted that his urge to come back in the end ahead of Ducati’s Jack Miller and Alex Rins’ Suzuki to save fifth place resulted from his “experience” of difficult days during his 2020 season.

“Actually I felt so strong right from the start and as soon as I passed Jack I was able to catch up with Johann [Zarco] so fast, “he explained.

“But I could feel a big drop on the rear tire that I hadn’t expected because I didn’t have a drop on the rear tire in the test or during practice.

“And today it was a total disaster. When Maverick passed me he was just in a different league and had a lot more grip than us.

“In the end I was able to overtake Rins and Miller because I ended up driving differently.

“It is the experience from last year that on a day that is not great for us we actually have to reach P5. On a difficult day at the end of the year it will help to get that result.”

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Quartararo can’t explain his tire drop as he doesn’t feel like he’s driving hard and he’s “really curious” to check Vinales’ data to see why he hasn’t had the same problems.

“Honestly, my driving – even when I passed Jack – my driving was smooth,” he added.

“I didn’t burn the tire like hell trying to overtake. I felt great, was turning a lot, and only the tire had a big drop, so I don’t understand.

“Also, I had problems when I saw Maverick overtake me, but I saw that he was pushing quite a bit with the tire.

“I say ‘OK, maybe he’ll have a drop a little later’.

“But we had more drops every time, and luckily I had a great feeling at the front and was able to manage the lap time in a different way.

“I feel like it’s more physical [the bike] Because I’ve never shivered like I do today. I lacked grip, the bike was so aggressive and shook a lot.

“So, [it’s] strange and I wonder how Maverick does the first few laps when he’s quieter than us.

“But at the beginning I had the feeling that I was driving so smoothly [Rossi] and he had the same drop as me. So it’s a pretty strange situation, I’m really curious. “