Maverick Vinales has revealed how close he came to leaving Yamaha in favour of a move to Ducati for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season, saying he stayed because he feels the Japanese firm offers a better shot at the title.
The Spaniard, who joined Yamaha in 2017, endured a season of two halves in 2019 with a lethargic start to the year giving way to a more competitive conclusion that culminated in two wins and seven podiums en route to third overall and top Yamaha rider.
Over the winter rumours emerged Vinales was on Ducati’s radar for the 2021 season before he opted to put pen to paper on an extension with the Yamaha Factory, where he will be joined by Fabio Quartararo.
In an interview with SkySports.it though, Vinales reveals it was a ‘difficult decision’ to choose Yamaha over Ducati having developed a strong relationship with Davide Tardozzi. However, though Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso has represented the closest challenger to Marc Marquez for the past three seasons, Vinales is convinced Yamaha is the better option for his title quest.
"I have a very good relationship with [Ducati team manager] Davide Tardozzi, it was difficult to choose between Ducati and Yamaha," Vinales told SkySport.it. "In the end, however, I chose Yamaha because I want to try to win the title, I don't know if I would have had the opportunity to do it away from Yamaha.
"I think my riding style would be fine for the Ducati, which is very powerful. It's a beautiful bike, also thanks to its aerodynamics. But our Yamaha is also very beautiful.
"The future? Who knows, maybe I could go back to Suzuki, but for now I am only thinking of winning in Yamaha."
Maverick Vinales ‘pissed’ Rossi won’t be his team-mate
For 2021 Vinales will be joined by Petronas SRT sensation Quartararo in the factory outfit next year at the behest of Rossi, who is still deciding whether he will hang up his helmet or continue, most likely with the Malaysian-backed satellite outfit.
Though Vinales is pleased to see the Frenchman coming into the team, he admits he is ‘pissed’ to see his idol exit the team, saying he gets extra motivation riding alongside – and beating – a MotoGP legend.
“My relationship with Quartararo is very good, from the first moment he joined Yamaha," he continued. "Fabio is very strong, especially in qualifying, he knows how to exploit the full potential of the Yamaha. This is very good for me too, because next year he will be our 'neighbour'.
"On the one hand I am happy that Fabio and I will work together in 2021, but on the other hand I am pissed because having Rossi on the same team has always been very nice, I am sorry to lose Valentino."
"Rossi has been my idol since I was a child, I have seen him race since I was three years old, for me it is an extra motivation to be on the track with him.
"I have not talked to Yamaha about how the situation will be next year, I hope that Valentino will continue in Yamaha, he is an important rider who brings a lot of useful information.
"What have I learned from Rossi? I have learned many things, what will surely remain for me is his ability to always have a smile, regardless of whether you finish first or seventh. "