Vinales saw “the fire” in his crew again after Le Mans nadir
Maverick Vinales claims the recent Barcelona test marked a major turning point for his Yamaha MotoGP crew, as he saw “the fire” that was absent for “a long time”.
Vinales won his three of his first five races with Yamaha after joining in 2017, but has gone winless since last year's Le Mans race – his struggles underlined by a poor outing in that same event in 2018.
The Spaniard admitted he was disappointed “with everyone” after the French Grand Prix, but said he saw a big change within his crew in the subsequent Michelin tyre test in Barcelona, which he topped.
“After Le Mans race I was so disappointed, with everything and with everyone,” Vinales recalled. “Honestly I was looking the race, and it was a disaster for me, for my riding style, for my feeling.
“The good thing is that after Le Mans, the next meeting, I needed to see in the people the fire I saw two years ago when I started here, [when] everyone wanted to win, everyone wanted to try to see his own bike at the top.
“This I didn't see for a long time. In Montmelo somehow I saw it - and when we finished the test and we could finish in the top, by riding I think quite good and consistent, I saw in the face of the people the smiles, they were satisfied. And it's been really long time [that] they were not satisfied.”
The Le Mans disappointment was followed by reports that Vinales would be looking to part ways with crew chief Ramon Forcada, and when asked about it in Mugello, the Spaniard did not deny that the relationship was going through a bad phase.
“I think in that moment it was difficult for us, for our relation with Ramon, because the things were not going [well],” he said.
“For me it's really important, the feeling with the people inside the box. I have to feel covered and happy, and in that moment I didn't feel covered and I didn't feel happy. I tried to find the best for me in that case.
“But as I said, in Montmelo I saw big changes on the team. More [than] about riding the bike, outside the bike the feeling was much better. The whole team was more close.
“For me this is more important than the bike. That the team work, that you are close with all the people, that when you have a bad day these people also try to get you up.”
Vinales also felt that he made major progress with the Yamaha bike in the Barcelona test, with a weight distribution change yielding positive results.
“[The changes were] to move the weight position a little bit more in the front, but without losing the rear grip," he explained. "On that area, I think we did a really big step.
“From the morning even in the cool conditions I was struggling so much. Then when we make that change it was nearly the hottest moment on the day, and with used tyres I could ride like with new tyres in the morning."
Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont
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