Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales showed serious pace during yesterday’s Qatar MotoGP, lapping in the low 1’55s in clear air, but the M1’s grip problems meant he found it almost impossible to make passes.
The Spaniard got an horrendous start from pole and dropped to seventh by the end of lap one, finding himself mire in a scrap with the two Suzukis and Danilo Petrucci.
But those three made their way forwards while Vinales held station and only moving up or down one place and he was passed by 40-year-old team-mate Valentino Rossi - also suffering grip issues.
“I couldn’t find a good rhythm, a good rear contact and I could not overtake, it was so difficult to overtake, and the lack of top speed on the main straight,” said Vinales, speaking at the track.
“When I was alone I make low 1’55s which is the laptime the front was doing but as soon as I arrive to other riders I suffer this lack of grip on the rear, I could not overtake so I lose many, many seconds.
But it is what it is. We need to keep working, I need to improve. The positive point is that we now know where we have to improve, and this is very important.”
In pre-season testing, Vinales had consistently led the way in terms of pace over race distance but was still lapping on his own, not in a pack and did warn that more grip was required.
Petrucci also claimed to be suffering the same problem when trying to pass.