When Maverick Viñales signed for Aprilia just after the Assen round of MotoGP this year, he and Yamaha promised us they would continue with their partnership until the end of the season. They’ve now changed their minds. Maverick Viñales and Yamaha have terminated their relationship, with immediate effect.
The contract was already due to finish a year early, but now, it’s been torn up six months earlier still. And with Maverick’s latest antics (we’re still not entirely sure what they were, but they were naughty enough to get him suspended from riding the bike at the Austrian GP), it’s probably in the interest of both parties.
Particularly for Maverick Viñales. Because now he’s been released from his Yamaha contract, he can get on an Aprilia. And I expect that’ll happen fairly soon, since Lorenzo Savadori is still nursing a broken ankle after the fireball crash that got the Styrian GP red flagged. Will we see Mav’ on an Aprilia in 2021? I reckon there’s a good chance.
But don’t forget that binning Viñales off early also leaves Yamaha open to find a replacement rider. Will they put Cal Crutchlow on the Factory M1? He was down to ride the Petronas Yamaha at the next round at Silverstone; but perhaps the factory team will pull rank and put Crutchlow on their bike for the rest of the season. Because it has to be said, the Englishman did struggle on the satellite machine in Austria.
Lin Jarvis, Yamaha Motor Racing Managing Director, made this statement
“In Assen Yamaha and Viñales already announced the mutual decision to cut short their original 2021-2022 programme and to finish it at the end of 2021. A commitment was made by both rider and team to continue to the end of the current season. The team guaranteed its full support and the rider his maximum efforts so that we could finish the project.
“Regretfully at the Styrian GP the race did not go well or end well. Consequently after deep consideration by both parties, a mutual decision was reached; it would be better for both parties if we end the partnership earlier. The early separation will release the rider to be free to follow his chosen future direction. It will also permit the team to focus its efforts on the remaining races of the 2021 season with a replacement rider; yet to be determined.
“I would like to express Yamaha‘s sincere gratitude to Maverick. Yamaha will continue to cherish the good memories and appreciate the work both parties put into the 4.5 years spent together that brought us 8 race victories, 24 podiums, and two third places in the 2017 and 2019 overall rider standings. We wish Maverick all the very best in his future endeavours.”
And Maverick Viñales said this
“Following our mutual decision in Assen to part ways a year early, it was also decided to commit to completing the current season with maximum effort from both sides. However, at the Styrian GP the race didn‘t turn out as we had hoped, and regrettably it did not end well.
“After thorough consideration both parties have agreed it would be best to end the partnership with immediate effect. I am deeply grateful to Yamaha for the great opportunity. And I am also thankful for the support they gave me during these 4.5 years of racing and will look back with pride on the results we achieved together.
“I’ll always have great respect for Yamaha and wish them the very best.”
I know, it all sounds very polite and grown up now, doesn’t it? But I bet there were a few swearwords exchanged in Yamaha Racing’s meeting room. This whole debacle is not what Yamaha want and it’s not what Viñales wants, but it’s happened. And I understand their keenness to continue racing together until the end of the season, but if it’s not working, it’s not working. Sometimes you’ve got to know when to cut ties… although I’ve got a feeling Maverick Viñales and Yamaha might have left it a round or two too late!