Maverick Vinales will leave Yamaha at the end of the 2021 MotoGP season it was confirmed Monday morning, just hours following his runners-up finish in the Dutch TT at Assen.
Rumours broke out over the Dutch TT weekend that Vinales had asked for an early termination of his contract-which runs out at the end of 2022- his ex-manager Ricard Jove posting on Twitter on Saturday evening that he was set to leave the manufacturer and head to Aprilia for next season.
Vinales has suffered a tough year so far despite winning the opening round of the campaign at Qatar in March, the Spaniard having failed to stand on the rostrum again until his run to second in Sunday’s Dutch TT.
He changed crew-chiefs ahead of the Catalan Grand Prix as a consequence of his lack of results, replacing Esteban Garcia for ex-Valentino Rossi crew-chief Silvano Galbusera in a desperate attempt to re-capture his Qatar performance.
Whispers suggested he felt unhappy with the level of attention he felt from Yamaha, the nine-time premier class race winner saying after the Dutch TT that “what is clear is I want to be able to use my potential, here (Yamaha) I cannot do it so I need to find a solution.”
It is as yet unclear exactly where he will land, though with Aprilia the only factory with a realistic shot of having an open space next year the Italian marque certainly seems the most likely.
Vinales says it was a “difficult decision” to leave Yamaha, the ’13 Moto3 world champion labelling his partnership with the organisation as “significant” and insisting he feels a mutual feeling of “respect and appreciation” between him and Yamaha.
“This partnership has been very significant to me over the last five years, and it proved a difficult decision to part ways,” said Vinales in a short statement.
“In these seasons together, we experienced both great achievements and tough times. However, the underlying feeling is of mutual respect and appreciation.
“I am fully committed and will strive to achieve the best results for the rest of the season.”
Yamaha Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis added that a disastrous German GP outing a week prior to his strong Dutch event-where he qualified second-to-last in 21st before finishing as the last classified racer in the contest-was the main catalyst for the split, both parties agreeing at Assen that they should terminate the partnership at year’s end.
“It is with sadness that we will say farewell to Maverick at the end of the year,” said Jarvis.
“We are in the middle of our fifth season together and over the years we have achieved many highs but also had to manage many lows.
“After the German GP, which was the most difficult weekend of our partnership, we had important discussions in Assen and came to the conclusion that it would be in the interest of both parties to go our separate ways in the future.
“Yamaha will put in their maximum effort – as we always have done – to give full support to Maverick and finish this season in the very best way possible.”
Vinales joined Yamaha having spent his first two terms in the premier class with Suzuki’s factory squad, enjoying a break-out sophomore season in ’16 as he won at Silverstone on his way to a strong fourth in the riders standings.
He enjoyed great success as soon as he joined Yamaha the following year as he racked up a total of three wins in his first five starts with the Japanese marque, though since then his form has largely fluctuated with a pair of third-place overall points results his best over the past five seasons.
He currently sits sixth in the championship on 95 points after a challenging ’21 season so-far, while new team-mate Fabio Quartararo currently leads the series on 156 having captured four wins so far-the Frenchman 34 clear of Johann Zarco with ten races remaining.