MotoGP: Yamaha and Maverick Vinales part ways with immediate effect
Yamaha has announced that it has parted company with MotoGP rider Maverick Vinales with immediate effect.
Vinales was suspended after the Grand Prix of Styria, where he was purposely hitting the rev limiter in the closing stages of the race - which could have caused serious damage to the Yamaha M1's engine.
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The Spaniard apologised to Yamaha in interviews conducted at the Austrian Grand Prix, citing frustration was the cause for his actions. Vinales was circulating in last position for the second time in three races. Vinales and Yamaha had already agreed to part ways at the end of the 2021 season, despite a two-year contract being in place.
“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," Vinales said. "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. 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 will always have great respect for Yamaha and wish them the very best.”
Vinales has joined Aprilia for the 2022 MotoGP season, reuniting with former Suzuki teammate Aleix Espargaro. Vinales has signed a one-year deal, with a further option for 2023.
Yamaha are yet to announce their plans following the sudden departure Vinales. It's been suggested that Cal Crutchlow may take Vinales' spot in the Monster Energy Yamaha factory at Silverstone, whilst Jake Dixon has been linked with Petronas Yamaha for the British Grand Prix. Franco Morbidelli is still recovering from knee surgery.
“Regretfully at the Styrian GP the race did not go well or end well and consequently after deep consideration by both parties, the mutual decision was reached that it would be better for both parties if we end the partnership earlier," Yamaha Motor Racing Managing Director Lin Jarvis added. "The early separation will release the rider to be free to follow his chosen future direction and 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 eight 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."
Yamaha's 2022 plans are less certain. Morbidelli will more than likely become a factory rider alongside Fabio Quartararo, however the situation at Petronas Yamaha isn't as clear. Petronas are withdrawing their title sponsorship, which means that the Sepang Racing Team will have to withdraw their Moto3 and Moto2 efforts due to funding.
It's also unclear whether they'll have factory-spec Yamaha M1s at their disposal, and both seats remain vacant. WorldSBK stars Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Garrett Gerloff both decided to stay with their respective Yamaha teams, whilst Raul Fernandez opted to stay within the KTM setup and join Tech3 for 2022.
Dixon and Darryn Binder have both been named as possible riders for the Yamaha satellite team.
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