Yamaha’s Movistar-backed MotoGP garage is divided over the direction of development the Japanese engineers need to take for the 2018 season after both Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales changed to the 2016 M1 chassis for yesterday’s Valencia finale.
Rossi is laying blame solely at the bike’s door: “My bike was not working well since the first test last year and we lost time” while Vinales was happy with the M1 for the first three races until Michelin introduced the harder front carcassed tyre. “I need to trust more my feelings and riding style,” he said.
Tomorrow, both will roll back out of the Valencia pitlane armed with various chassis to test, including the now two-year-old version on which Johann Zarco managed to podium in Spain.
His results again rang an alarm in the works Yamaha garage. He, not they, was fighting for the win and handed factory aces their arses on a plate. Rossi finished in fifth but was 22 second slower over race distance than last year and Vinales in 12th. The desperate manoeuvre to race with the 2016 chassis didn’t pay off.
“The bike is easier to ride but it makes the situation worst in terms of tyre consumption. In the end we were 20 seconds slower than last year, using the same tyre and also the race winner was 13 seconds slower than last year with the same tyre and same asphalt temperature and conditions. So we need to understand,” said The Doctor, speaking at the track.
At the moment it’s not clear which base will be used to develop the 2018 bike. “I spoke with the Japanese engineers and they are worried as I am. They listened to me but they didn’t say what they are going to do. There is not just one area to work on, but various areas. We’ll have to work on the electronics but also on the bike’s dynamic performance,” he added.
Regarding the race, maybe the outcome would have been similar with the 2017 chassis. “Very similar,” confirmed Rossi. “It happened as I expected. I realised that I didn’t have great margins for improvement and that is why I decided to take the risk and race with the 2016 chassis.
“Johann is a very good rider and he always manages to use softer tyres than the other riders. Besides this, he has been riding this bike for a year and he has more experience than us who have only ridden it since warm up. Also, my bike and his bike were not entirely identical. The engine I use is different, as are many other details. In any case, it was just a test that we had to do and Zarco’s race was outstanding.”
Maverick Vinales is even more frustrated: “We had an issue with the rear tyre that was vibrating a lot. I know the chassis was working very well in the morning but in the race this problem came up. I couldn’t do anything and I felt sorry also for the hard work of the team that had prepared my bike that was destroyed after my crash.
“I never asked for this chassis earlier. Because I didn’t know it was possible. But l learned a lesson from this year. First of all it’s important not to lose the way, but I understand also that I need to trust my feelings and my riding style more. Now we need to look at the new season with positive feelings because we arrive from some difficult races. We need to start confident and use at the best the test days as we did last year. My target for these tests is to make many laps in a row and find the rhythm.
“I’m not the only frustrated, also for the team has been a difficult season. We will try to recover the good feeling with the program to test less things but in a good way. I’m really sorry for the race, because I had a good feeling in the morning.”
Regarding the direction, it looks like the two have different feelings regarding the development of the bike, especially in the direction of the chassis. Rossi is very practical: “Give us a fast bike and you see that both riders will agree.”