Maverick Viñales' Wild, Weird Weekend, And How The Past Shapes The Future

I was supposed to have an interview with Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis this weekend, arranged well beforehand. That ended up not happening, unsurprisingly. Lin Jarvis had more important things to deal with than answering my questions. And my list of questions seemed a good deal less relevant this weekend than they had a few days earlier.

For this weekend was all about Maverick Viñales. Whether he, or we, wanted it to be or not. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider (but not for long) arrived at Assen after finishing dead last at the Sachsenring, topped both sessions of free practice on Friday, had an explosive meeting with Yamaha on Friday evening, secured pole with a blistering lap on Saturday, then found a way to only finish second on Sunday, well behind his teammate Fabio Quartararo. Oh yes, and there were the reports that he had signed for Aprilia for 2021 on Saturday night as well.

The last time we had a weekend like this was at Austria in 2019, when Johann Zarco announced that he had asked KTM to terminate his contract with immediate effect. But though that rupture was more dramatic, Zarco stepping away with immediate effect and leaving KTM scrabbling around for a replacement rider, at least it made sense from a results perspective. Zarco had had one top ten finish and one front row start, after three podiums in each of the preceding two years.

Parallel lines

When Maverick Viñales requested separation from Yamaha, it came in the same season that he had won the first race of the year, and while he was sixth in the championship. He had had three front row starts from eight races, and two fifth places in addition to his victory. It also came after ending the first day of practice as fastest, and clear favorite to win the race, his main rival his teammate.

Zarco had quit halfway through his first season with KTM. Viñales was halfway through his fifth season with Yamaha. Zarco had been signed up to the KTM deal by his former manager Laurent Fellon, and handed a deal as a fait accompli. Viñales had phoned Yamaha himself at the start of 2020, after receiving an offer from Ducati, and asking for a response from the Japanese factory.

In short, Zarco's decision made sense in the context in which it happened. The decision of Maverick Viñales to leave Yamaha feels more like it came out of the blue.

Or maybe not, looking back. Maverick Viñales has been unhappy at Yamaha for a very long time. In fact, he was only ever happy at Yamaha when he won. Most other weekends, he was somewhere between miserable and frustrated. Attending his debriefs, real or virtual, was always a lottery, so much so that among the group of journalists I share the load of attending debriefs with, we would sometimes draw straws as to who would go. Would it be Mardy Mav or Mighty Mav who would greet us? His debriefs varied from informative to uplifting to spirit-sapping.

All change

Replacing Ramon Forcada at the end of 2018 with a crew chief of his own choosing might have been regarded as understandable. Forcada is a fierce and headstrong character, as well as one of the best and most experienced crew chiefs in the MotoGP paddock. The relationship between crew chief and rider is the most important one in any team, as that is where the communication necessary for success stops and starts. If that relationship breaks down or doesn't work, then a change is the only option.

But when Viñales parted ways before Barcelona with Esteban Garcia, his hand-picked replacement for Forcada as crew chief, that was a sign of far more serious issues. Viñales hinted throughout that it had not been his choice to drop Garcia, but rather the choice of Yamaha. Paddock rumor hinted strongly at Garcia walking out, rather than being pushed. But it is also possible that Yamaha decided to replace Garcia with Silvano Galbusera, formerly crew chief to Valentino Rossi and now working with the MotoGP test team, as a last ditch attempt to respond to Viñales' complaints.

That attempted foundered after just two races. A crash in FP3 meant he had to go through Q1 at the Sachsenring. That turned into a disaster, qualifying in 21st, the worst grid position of his life. The race was even worse, Viñales finishing dead last, 19th of 19 finishers. Confusingly, in that race, he posted the fastest race lap of any Yamaha rider, and seventh fastest overall. In the early laps of that race, he was basically running the same pace as the top five in the race, despite being in last place.

Push to pass

His issue, he said, was a lack of power to be able to pass the Ducatis he found himself stuck behind. "I spent 15 laps behind Marini and Bastianini. I could not pass them. Impossible. So I prepared what I could but they had more power, they braked later. I’m sorry but that’s how it was," Viñales told us on Sunday night in Germany.

Fast forward a week later and that was pretty much what he was saying after finishing second behind his teammate, Fabio Quartararo, at Assen. But if anything, Viñales was as frustrated after finishing second as he had been after finishing last. "As Fabio said, with our bike it’s so complicated to overtake," Viñales told the press conference. "I just found myself behind Nakagami, impossible. I don't know what more to do. Outside, inside. I didn’t find a way to overtake until he lost the traction. As soon as he lost the traction, for me it was easy to overtake back and try to put a good rhythm." It had taken Viñales 13 laps to get past Takaaki Nakagami on the LCR Honda. It took Johann Zarco, who was following Viñales, about three corners.

Throughout his career at Yamaha, Viñales' complaints have had a few recurring themes. The first is a lack of horsepower and top speed, a common complaint among Yamaha riders and a consequence of Yamaha's design philosophy to build a bike that has strong corner speed and can change direction well, as well as being easy to ride. Viñales has also commonly complained of a lack of rear grip and drive, a factor which also affects top speed. And on occasion, he has also complained of a lack of feeling from the front of the bike.

No answers

What had frustrated Viñales most this season was a lack of answers from Yamaha. "The way things are going is that I don’t understand nothing and after that I don’t know what more," Viñales said at Assen on Thursday. But when he asked Yamaha engineers if they had any idea what was causing his problems, the answer was the same. "The problem is that when I try to find a solution the answer is the same and that’s ‘I don’t know’."

All that came to a head on Friday. Despite finishing fastest, Viñales did his TV interviews and then disappeared into a meeting with Yamaha, the outcome of which was that the two parties agreed to part ways at the end of 2021, a year early. That patched things up well enough for Saturday, in which the Spaniard shattered the pole record at Assen.

In the press conference on Saturday, Viñales spoke of being happy that the Yamaha M1 had grip at Assen, which had allowed him to be fast. "I have really high confidence on what we are able to do, just we don’t find the way to do it. Honestly, things are good. FP1 has been good. With grip I can be fast," he said.

Grip was everything for Viñales, he said. "In these MotoGP bikes you have to create grip. If you don’t have grip you have to have a bike that turns. Our bike, at least for me, when I have grip I can turn. Without grip it’s difficult. With this kind of bike when you don’t have grip, you can do nothing."

Turning sour

That positive atmosphere changed on Saturday night, when reports emerged that Viñales had signed for Aprilia. News of the split was not supposed to come out until Monday morning, with the press release. But the tension created by the Aprilia reports was tangible. Viñales appeared more detached from his crew than normal on the grid.

After the race, after finishing second and taking his second podium of the year, there were no celebrations. Viñales arrived in parc ferme shaking his head, complaining to his crew, detached from everything that was going on. He gave a disconsolate interview to Simon Crafar, and seemed to be going through the motions in the podium ceremony. Then spent the post-race press conference denying outright that he had signed for Aprilia, but not quite denying he had split with Yamaha.

"I read one tweet from one guy, he is totally wrong," Viñales insisted, when asked about the Aprilia rumors. But the rest of his answer, about his future, was far more ambiguous. "I don't know what to say. One thing is clear is that here I cannot take on my maximum. I need to find my line. Sometimes it is difficult. I need to find something that gives me the opportunity to give the maximum every lap, every race, every track."

What he did do was plenty of finger pointing at Yamaha. "I’m not disappointed because I didn’t win. I’m disappointed because I’m not able to take out all my potential," Viñales said. "That’s why I’m disappointed. That’s why I was very upset in Sachsenring because somehow here I’m not able to push at the maximum. Technically there is many mistakes a few times, and I’m not able to give the maximum."

"What is clear is that here I cannot take out the maximum I have inside," he reiterated later. "I’m desperate honestly to take out because in many races it is there inside and I really wanted to take out."

Good to say goodbye

When asked if he saw the benefit of leaving Yamaha, he hinted most strongly at his imminent departure, effectively implying there was no point in staying. "I think for sure benefit, it’s difficult to have benefit like this. I just get difficulties. Somehow I start to feel that when I come to the race it starts to be a nightmare. I have for three years the same comments, so they can take the notes and is exactly the same comment three years in a row."

"As I said, I just want to take out the maximum. I just want to come racing to really race and give everything I have." That was impossible in the current situation, Viñales said. "Right now it’s difficult. When I come to racing I just say, what problem am I going to have this race? This is a problem. I just want to come here, give the maximum, and see where we are."

He also admitted that leaving had been on his mind in Germany. "For sure in Sachsenring I wanted to go home on Friday already because it was a disaster weekend. I explained everything, but we were not able to improve," Viñales said. At a track with grip, things were a little better, but still not enough, he said. "So, here things are good, I had grip, the track is good, the track adapt a little more to the bike so I can be fast, but I am far from my full potential. The only thing I want to take out is my full potential."

As the press conference wound to a close, Viñales emphasized once again that his frustration lay with the technical development of the Yamaha M1, and Yamaha's failure to address the problems he complained of. "I’m more disappointed about the technical side, not about the human because finally we were good. I have to say in the previous years and then 2018 also was difficult. 2019 somehow we found a way, but then in 2020 again we changed everything, we change the bike and we start to lose the way again," Viñales told us. "Honestly, on the human side, I’m happy. I have to say that I appreciate a lot the guys in Yamaha. this is the important thing at the end. As I said before, Germany was very painful. Honestly, it was hard to eat that result. Very hard." So hard that it ended his relationship with Yamaha.

Sharing the blame

Is Yamaha to blame? There is criticism to be leveled at the Japanese factory. The 2020 bike was fast when they could find the right setup, Quartararo and Viñales sharing four wins between them. But when they couldn't find the right setup, they were a long way off. The fact that Franco Morbidelli ended the season in second place on the 2019 bike, with three wins to his name, was a clear sign of the problems with the Yamaha.

But Viñales also has problems which are very specific to him. His starts have always been poor, and he has always struggled with a full tank. So much so that he spent the daytime sessions of the Qatar test doing one practice start after another. It helped, his starts improved. But he still struggled.

His other weakness has been an inability to pass other riders. Some of that is the bike, but his teammate is showing that passing on a Yamaha is far from impossible. The classic outbraking maneuver at the end of a straight is hard on a Yamaha, if the bike is down on top speed. But there are plenty of sections of track where riders can use the superior corner speed to get close enough to pounce on corner exit and along the short straights that join the back section of most circuits.

In many ways, Assen was a prime example of Viñales' weaknesses as a rider in comparison to Fabio Quartararo. Viñales started from pole, and got off the line well enough, but as Quartararo started to catch him on the run into Turn 1, Viñales backed off and lost three or four places before the first corner.

In parc ferme he put his start down to burning out the clutch, but by the press conference, he had changed his line, saying that Quartararo's movement had caused him to back off the throttle "On the start [Fabio] crossed, so I needed to close the gas," Viñales said, though he didn't want to apportion blame. "This makes me go fourth, and then everything was more complicated, but this is racing. One time can happen to one rider, next time can happen to another."

Viñales then spent 13 laps behind Takaaki Nakagami and unable to pass. Watching the video on MotoGP.com, both from the helicopter view and from Viñales' onboard cameras, you can see him try. But he tries in the same way every single lap: trying to dive up the inside of Nakagami going into the Strubben hairpin, but not able to get close enough. Then trying to carry speed through the Ramshoek and sliding right to try to outbrake Nakagami into the GT Chicane.

The problem is that he rarely varies his line of attack. Once he manage to slip through on Nakagami at Meeuwenmeer, but Nakagami soon retakes the position. Otherwise, Viñales just keeps trying the same attacks lap after lap, and failing to make an impression. Only once Nakagami makes a small mistake can he get through.

Imagination

Contrast this with Fabio Quartararo. The Frenchman found himself stuck behind Pecco Bagnaia on the factory Ducati, who was giving a masterclass on defensive riding. When Quartararo attacked, Bagnaia made sure he came straight back, trying to hold the Frenchman behind him all the way to the chicane, and able to use the acceleration of the Desmosedici GP21 to fire out of that corner on the straight and straight back past Quartararo if he was ahead.

Quartararo soon wised up to Bagnaia's game, however. The Frenchman changed his lines, trying outside and inside at the Strubben, to little avail. When he realized that getting past at the Ramshoek or into the GT Chicane was too late, he altered his lines through Mandeveen and Duikersloot to carry more speed through to Meeuwenmeer, to pass Bagnaia well before the chicane and eke out just enough of a gap to prevent Bagnaia from blasting past on the straight. Once past, he was gone.

This has been the story of Viñales' career. One of the most talented riders on the grid, when everything works, he is unstoppable, able to do whatever he likes with the M1, either winning comfortably or able to fight off challenges to the line.

Viñales' problem, however, is he struggles to come up with a back up plan if his initial plan fails. He cannot regroup mentally, try a different approach, and think up an alternative plan of attack. So he finds himself stuck, banging his head against a wall.

To Viñales, it must feel like the wall he is banging up against is one of technical limitations. There is merit in that, but great riders, champions, accept that is part of the game, and find a way to ride around those limitations, finding strengths elsewhere. Viñales lacks the ability to do that.

It is perhaps his ambition and his will to victory which prevent him from doing that. He gets an idea in his head, figures out a plan, and sticks to it come what may. He believes it should work, and refuses to believe when it doesn't work.

In it to win it

It is hard to overstate the size of Viñales' ambition. A few years ago, Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio told me about Viñales' first MotoGP race in 2015. It was Suzuki's first full-time race in MotoGP in the year of their return, and the Spaniard's debut in the class at Qatar. He finished fourteenth, three places behind his then teammate Aleix Espargaro.

Viñales was in tears afterward, Brivio told me. He had been convinced he would win the race, and couldn't understand why he had not. Rookies winning their first race in the premier class is a vanishing rarity, but to do so on a brand new machine is virtually unheard of. That was not a concept which had occurred to Viñales, however.

This steadfast refusal to face the idea that the problem might be him is what stands in the way of success for Maverick Viñales. His bike talent is unquestionable: you do not smash lap records if you cannot master a MotoGP machine, and you don't win MotoGP races if you have no racing talent. But his lack of mental flexibility, of putting things into perspective, of thinking up different ways of reaching a goal, is what holds him back.

Coming up short

His record reflects this. Viñales won his first two races aboard a Yamaha, then added a third in a memorable battle with Valentino Rossi at Le Mans 2017, his fifth race for the factory. But in the 73 races since then, he has won only 5 more races. Like Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, he wins one or two races a season, and sometimes competes for a championship, but never really gets close to winning one. In two and a half seasons with Yamaha, Fabio Quartararo has amassed seven wins, one shy of Viñales total with the Japanese factory in twice that period. That suggests it isn't just the bike.

That is the problem Viñales faces in his next challenge. If, as rumored, he goes to Aprilia, he will find a bike that is far from perfect. And given that first Cal Crutchlow and now Andrea Dovizioso have turned down the Aprilia ride due to a lack of confidence in the organizational ability of Aprilia, things don't bode well for Viñales if he joins the Noale factory and demands changes to the bike.

Rumors of a switch to the VR46 team are also circulating, from sources within a factory in a position to know. That seems unlikely, given Viñales' view of himself as a factory rider. He wants to win a championship, and believes, like most riders, that that can only be done in a factory team. Whatever the level of support promised at VR46 – and Ducati are famous for supporting riders in their satellite teams – the focus will always be the factory squad.

The comeback starts now?

The final option, and least desired, is to take a year off, and try to come back in 2023, when all of the rider contracts are up for renewal. That is risky indeed, as Andrea Dovizioso is finding out. Once you're off a MotoGP bike, you are quickly forgotten, as the paddock marches on inexorably toward the future. Team bosses look forward, not backward, and by 2022, 2021 will be history.

Johann Zarco salvaged his MotoGP career because he was willing to take a chance with the poorest team on the grid, with support from Ducati, and use the chance to prove his mettle. Maverick Viñales' future may depend on him being willing to do the same thing.


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Source: 
year: 
2021
round_number: 
9

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Comments

If a factory needs a fast trackday guy, they can call the retired Casey Stoner.  Vinales doesn't appear to have enough racecraft to become world champion.

Stoner is struggling to get out of bed because of his condition. Test riding is waaaay down the list of priorities for him at the moment. 

I think there's a huge elephant in the room that's being overlooked. Tyres. Vinales won his first race for Suzuki after the switch to Michelin and looked unstoppable. Then a group of riders led by Rossi lobbied for Michelin to change them and the rest is history. Riders can never say anything about the tyres but they decide everything and I am convinced it's the biggest reason we see so many inconsistent riders. Vinales may be the most high profile example but Morbidelli is nowhere either and that's not just the older bike. Quartararo flaundered last season too for reasons that are still unexplained. Bagnaia can sometimes turn the Ducati but sometimes not. Not once since that change in 2017 have I seen consistent performances on these tyres with the only exception being Marc Marquez who doesn't seem to care at all. I think Michelin is doing a bad job but nodoby wants to or can talk about it for some reason.

the tires are the only variable (the other maybe being weather, including riding at the same track at different times of the year) and there has been no scrutiny on how Michelin have been performing. I believe that they are runining the sport and turning into a lottery as opposed to an environment were talent and hard work always rise to the surface. I know that the limitation of costs is one of the driving principles behind the current rules and regulations, but maybe the more testing, combined with less frequent changes in compound, should be allowed to let the teams get their head around the tires and give their best. Maybe things will get better next season once COVID restrictions will ease. Most likely i am talking through my backside....

Why it's forbidden for any of the riders to speak out against the tires.  It really makes no sense to me.  Do Michelin really believe that they're above scrutiny and should never be exposed to a dissenting opinion? 

I genuinely don't understand the gag orders.  Anyone know the details on this? 

The Bridgestones were very simular (not identical) across circuits, and very firm. Michelins many riders have mentioned they have a softer carcass overall and appear to be different at every circuit. Maybe a throw back to the days where they made circuit specifice race day specials for a select few riders in the before times? Some riders it's a big impact. MM doesn't care, the Suzuki seems to be bulit for the softer carcass and everyone else seems to struggle or get lucky with setup.

Using one and only one tire manufacturer creates the possibiity that tires can be used to influence results.

If two tire manufacturers were involved that would tend to keep things balanced. 

Also, when Michelin insists on making tires which clearly don't work well for some riders, a second tire manufacturer could remedy that situation. As it stands now, a rider who cannot do well with the Michelins is out of luck.

Regarding costs, the money spent to provide tires for MotoGP is insignificant relative to the annual revenues of a company like Michelin or Bridgestone. The "cost savings" bit is just an excuse we're all supposed to believe unquestioningly.

Respectfully none of this makes sense

Rossi's best recent year was on Bridgestones.... he has declined every year on the Michelins. So that lobbying did nothing

There are plenty of reasons why riders are inconsistent. This is Fabio's 3rd season in MotoGP. What 1st/2nd year rider has been consistent, besides super aliens like Marquez? What info do you have to confirm that Morbidelli's troubles were due to tires and nothing else? Why do the tire issues only affect Yamaha, when the very similar Suzuki just won a championship? Etc. etc. By latching onto conspiracies we dive into pointless complexities and speculation instead of just using the available facts to help us arrive at a logical conclusion.

Like Brivio's story showed Mav has been a headcase from the moment he got to MotoGP, and his Moto3 shenanigans show he was a headcase before that. Maverick has way more to do with Maverick's problems than anybody or anything outside of his own head. It's just that simple

Maybe its all Maverick's head, but in any pro sport I know, the competor has to have fun in his pursuit. Some of these MotoGP teams disrespect that and it costs them results. Probably the most notorious was Casey Stoner and Ducati when they doubted his health issues. They had the beast rider in the world, yet somehow thought their MotoGP bike was the reason he performed. We all know now that their bike was the reason he didn't win every season. It was a piece of crap. So he goes to Honda and wins the championship strait away. Maybe Yamaha is not a piece of crap but they can only win if they have the best riders performing at their best consistently. Their M1 cannot win without that top rider performing at his best. Probably the path that MV is taking will not result in a championship, but maybe he'll find the fun again?    Or maybe he won't...  

The M1 ain't any different from the Honda or in fact any other bike. Without MM Honda is the worst off them all, they all need a top rider. Any team thinking MV is such a top rider is  partialy right : only for about 3-4 WE's per year.

Fun is for children. MV is supposed to be a professional, someone who can be counted on. He is not supposed to be a child. Fun has nothing to do with it. Fun? Sheesh!

Lack of fun is maybe a poor excuse for a professional but it's a massive part of giving your best. Enjoy your work, find it interesting, a bit of a geek because you love it....you put twice as much into it and put up with a huge amount of crap without complaint.

Adults have no need to chase frivolous 'fun'. Fun is being satisfied at doing a good job at work. It's knowing you've provided for your family. It's being content with life. That's adult 'fun'.

Innocent children deserve that feeling of glee that comes with thrills and excitement and no responsilities. Adults have not the luxury of this waste of time in a billion dollar business where peoples' livelihoods are dependent on everyone's performance. Mav let down dozens of people with his inability or unwillingness to look in the mirror and fix his problems. I don't think he should get another ride but I'm sure someone will be desperate enough as, when the moon is just right, he is very fast. I don't dislike Mav, I just don't think he's a racer.

Can you still do your job even when you're not having fun? I suspect you can. I've had fun at work many times but my job performance wasn't affected whether fun was had or not. I don't know what to do with a person who can only perform when having fun. I don't even know what that is. Motogp riders are professionals. A professional is someone to be counted on, relied upon by the entire team and corporation, for consistent performance. When you don't know what you're going to get for a performance you have a dilettante not a professional. No room for dilettantes at the top.

Sure Brian i know what you're saying. When i say fun i don't mean having a laugh i mean enjoying the content of the work itself. You know, when your colleagues ask what you did with your free day and you don't mention the hours spent thinking and working on a problem because...well what else would i want to be doing ? It all ends in a burn out anyway. Now, when you aren't enjoying it, yes of course do a good professional job...very acceptable...actually what you are paid to do, the deal, the contract. Go to the nth degree and then some ? No way, i definitely saw a bar around here somewhere.

I don't have the drive to even want to get to the level these guys are at. That monomanical focus and persistence is offputting to me. I'd much rather do things I enjoy for enjoyment. I've worked hard when I've worked and played hard when I've played. But at the top level there's no room for layabouts like me. Or anyone who isn't 100% in. Thanks for the reasoned and decent conversation. What a fine place where we can discuss without rancor! Thank you, David, as well for the leadership that provides us this place.

 

... but that's the world we live in now.  Maverick is born of the generation that believes that the world should be exactly the way he wants it, or he'll have a tantrum.

The end result is a millionaire who cries about his own results, acts like an innocent victim, and expects people to feel sorry for him.  The real kicker is that there are plenty of people in the world who will (metaphorically speaking) put their arm around him and say "Poor Maverick, you're right.  People really are mean."

That's why I liked Cal Cruthlow so much.  No touchy-feely pity party.  If he screwed up, he was the first to tell you.  If he didn't perform, his response was to work harder.  If something was wrong on the bike, he'd definitely say it, but then he'd go on about the business of working toward solutions rather than crying about problems.  He understood that frank, honest evaluation was needed on ALL sides, himself included.  Maverick wants to look at his situation and throw 100% of the responsibility on everyone except himself.

It wouldn't break my heart to see Maverick fall off the grid.  He's failed to live up to the promise for as long as he's been in MotoGP now, and switching to another team won't mean a thing, because he'll still be the same guy who blames everyone but himself.

It'll be a mistake for Aprilia to sign him.  They have too much to do trying to develop the bike.  Maverick cannot develop the bike, and his tantrums over the last years have proved it.

I agree with you. My problem is I fail to take into account the feelings of such a delicate talent.  If only points were awarded to the one acting most aggrieved or the one who could relate the most touching tale of their difficult journey to the top. We could have judges decide the winner. Or winners. Maybe having just one is exclusionary.

I've got it: each rider should decide where he thinks he finished or would have finished if everything had gone to plan. We're all winners! Yay! Let's go get ice cream.

Fully agree with you there, Buddy. Cal had his faults but he had clearly built up a good, honest working relationship with LCR. 

"Adults have no need to chase frivolous 'fun'."

 

That's your opinion. Many millions of fully functional adults would disagree.

The ski industry, the mountain bike industry, and the outdoor recreation industry in general would all disagree with the above. In the US most motorcycles are not used for work, they are used for fun. There's a very real need in all humans to experience joy which has nothing to do with the practical aspects of life. Following MotoGP as a fan actually fits in this category. 

And you "don't think Maverick is a racer" ? Right. That must be why Maverick repeatedly expresses his desire to have a bike which allows him to ride to his full potential. 

 

 

Recreation industry jobs are jobs. An activity that is usually a leisure activity becomes 'work' when you start getting paid. That means your feelings about your day cease to matter while you do you job.

I would never want one of those 'fun jobs'. What is fun to someone doing it for pleasure is still 'work' to someone whose job it is. The point, I guess, is that Mav should be able to do his job even if he's not having 'fun'. He can't because he lets his thinking or something get in his way. He's letting down the whole race team and Yamaha as a corporation because he can't do his job if he doesn't have 'fun'.

Somehow I have the impression that you are making a confusion between 'fun' and 'responsibility'. They are not mutually exclusive, which is why it cannot be compared with children in my opinion. A fully grown adult can go with both. When the fun part goes away, there remains the responsibility part as a reason to carry on but when it becomes unbearable, then going away is a good alternative, and I believe looking for a place where one has fun is not being a spoilt brat.

As someone said to me once, in case of a difficult situation, there are three options : change it, love it or leave it.

I don't believe in enduring a situation simply for the responsibillity aspect in the professional environment. A job is a contract where both sides bring something to each other. When that doesn't work anymore, the contract can be broken and that's it. No need to put guilt on anyone. Life goes on.

I agree there are ways to do that, but in my experience at the workplace, when someone wants to go, and is deeply unhappy, then there is no point in keeping that person. Which is probably why Zarco and Viñales are let go.

It might be remote to some, but the job they are doing is akin to putting their life in the balance for the show. Doing that without having fun sounds absolutely nonsensical to me. It is more on the side of the spectator who insist that a person carries on risking his/her life 'because he/she has to' in an environment that is devoid of any fun to him/her that the problem may lie.

Raw talent aquires a confidence problem and is haunted by always being second best up there. Walks out to quit from top best of the best and won't engage when given his second chance.  He bares his namesake remarkably well..

It's painfully obvious the Yamaha has a bunch of problems and has had those problems for a while.

Different people deal with frustration differently. Some people believe it's a virtue to "tough it out" when things get difficult, but frankly I don't think that choosing to remain in a frustrating situation necessarily indicates virtue - there's a time when the only right move is to leave for a better situation, even if the better situation is not immediately available. The vital first step is to get OUT of the bad situation. Only after that can the opportunity for things to get better become available.

If I wanted to find fault with Viñales ( which I really don't, I sympathize with the guy's struggles ) I would say he should have left Yamaha a couple of years ago rather than continuing to suffer as he has. Staying in a situation where those who are supposed to help you are not helping is a soul-destroying thing.

I wish Viñales the best of fortune in his future. 

And I'd really like to see Yamaha fire Lin Jarvis. Jarvis is not a world-class team manager, and the current state of Yamaha proves this is true.

 

I've been saying for a long time that I believe Lin Jarvis is the main problem in Yamaha.  Everyone wants to focus on the rider, but attitude reflects leadership.  Jarvis has mismanaged every rider situation he's dealt with.  He's like a school principal who sits in his office saying "Now you boys be nice" while the school burns. 

Under Lin Jarvis, Yamaha has:

  • finished 1st or 2nd on most of the manfacturer's championships in the Marquez era
  • been the only factory to beat a healthy Marquez over a full season
  • rebuilt and become competitive again after a slump
  • recruit and retain new and top talent after the departure of Lorenzo and Rossi's long, protracted, painful decline
  • bag a new top sponsor for their satellite team

That's a pretty strong resume for a team boss. Is he the best? I don't know, but he's def far from the worst.

The current state of Yamaha? 9 races into a 19 race season their top rider is currently leading the championship by 34 points with 4 of 9 wins and points from every race (nobody else has done that this season). Their second rider is 5th in the championship with 1 win despite being a complete headcase who can't get out of his own way. Again.... how is that bad?

You, like Maverick, refuse to put any blame on Maverick for the outcomes of his actions. No bike is perfect. Every bike could be better. But at some point you have to put your head down and just work with what you have. Maverick refuses to do that, and just continues to blame the bike and his team for his bad results. Before when he was the top rider those complaints might have had more merit, but now he has no excuses- his teammate is winning the championship!!! So speed or not he's a liability and Yamaha is smart to get rid of him. Let some other factory be his punching bag for his lack of results. There are plenty of other riders willing to dig deep and take ownership of their results.

Jarvis may not be perfect but the results of Yamaha under his leadership have been pretty damn good. Maverick is an amazing rider as i've said but he has two primary problems in my eyes. firstly he's deluted into thinking his approach is perfect and the bike, crew chief, or leadership is the problem. Secondly he can't keep it together when his plans go wrong.

He get's pole, looses the drag to the first corner, and then looses his head. I mentioned it in my own post. He's an amazing rider but leaves something to be desired as a racer. Racers need to be able to ride around problems, keep a cool head, and keep your eye on the big picture. I have no doubt he could win a championship but he never will if he stays like this. That's why I have little sympathy for Maverick's situation, he's tried to change everything external from his number to his crew chief but won't turn the focus to work on changing himself. He's had years to do so and still hasn't. 

Frankly Yamaha is better off without him and I fear for the team that picks him up. He'll go to Aprilia or something and do the same thing. Amazing results until the pressure is on and he'll fall apart again. If he's amazing and crushes it i'll be the first to admit i was wrong. But, i doubt it.

 

At the end of the day when a rider who can win, on a bike that can win, doesn't win as much as he should (If that's possible to know) it's a failure of the whole team and the rider is part of that team. 20/20 hindsight is a luxury all of us have and possibly there are things all involved people would do differently if they could travel back in time. Lin Jarvis would probably be more 15% Gates, 22% Jobs, 17% Guevara, 16% Kennedy and....who founded Specsavers ?....ahhh yeah...30% Perkins. Alas, not even Elon has managed to make a time machine yet.

... if you were, I have to disagree (assuming that CTK was directing his last comment at me).  I've been saying for a while now that in the absence of Jorge Lorenzo, Maverick Viñales has taken on the rold of Team Head Case.  His biggest problem in his racing career is not external, it's internal.

I'm no apologist for anyone in the MotoGP grid.  Every person there has to pull their own weight.  Maverick needs to look inside, and so does Lin Jarvis.  I'll say it again - "winning" doesn't mean that everything is okay, and it's not a reason to forego self-examination.  That Yamaha is leading the championship at the moment is not an indication that everything is hunky-dory, and it doesn't obviate the fact that Jarvis has dropped the ball on many occasions.

That the situations with Maverick, Valentino, Jorge, and Franco (and others, really) ever got to the points that they did should be an indication that the team leadership either didn't recognize that there was a problem, or didn't know how to proactively get in front of it.  My assessment of Lin Jarvis is that he may know the business/P&L side of operating a team, but he's not a visionary who proactively sets the right tone and leads people.  He seems to constantly find himself on the back foot, reacting to things that happen to him rather than seeing them coming in advance and dealing with them more effectively. 

It was directed at you and the comment you replied to.

Lorenzo was a head case, but he was also tough as nails, adaptable, and a MotoGP champion. You look at his reasons for leaving (Yamaha treating him like crap after beating Marquez in a championship) vs Mav's (blaming Yamaha for his lack off results) and it's clear they're not comparable.

Lin Jarvis isn't perfect but then what team manager is? Gigi lost a healthy competitive Lorenzo. Brivio lost a prime Mav. Honda is a perpetual disaster. Aprilia only just got their stuff together. The only consistently well run team is KTM. One out of six. MotoGP is a brutal sport. Mistakes are gonna be made.

Thing with Maverick though is he was a head case at pretty much every stage in his career. He is the common problem. He doesn't take responsibility or ownership for bad results. Without that he's never going to improve as a racer or win a championship. In this sea of high talent it makes no sense to center a MotoGP project around such a rider.

So yes Lin made mistakes. He was instrumental in Lorenzo's exit. But in my opinion it was a mistake to not get rid of Mav long ago. They shouldn't have resigned him

It sounds like you're disagreeing with me, but in fact I agree with pretty much everything you said. wink

No, we have a fundamental disagreement about Lin Jarvis. I don't think he's a perfect team boss but his resume shows he's a damn good one. Maverick's problem is Maverick. That was his problem before Yamaha, at Yamaha, and it will be his problem after Yamaha if he doesn't deal with it.

I wouldn't.

Dude looks everywhere but the mirror for solutions to his problems.

Every rider at this level has jaw dropping speed, it's the space between the ears that wins championships and if that space is disrupted by Marc following you in qualifying (to the point of having an on track meltdown)....you ain't winning it all.

I got no animosity towards Mav, and he may well prove me wrong by getting on a different bike and winning it all. I will applaud as loud as anyone else.......I just don't see it.

Spot on. I wouldnt hire MV either.

2 years ago on here I said I wouldnt hire Dovi. Doesnt matter he came second in the championship 3 years on the bounce or whatever. He doesnt have that last nth %. Mav is the same. Fantastic ride but over the course of an entire season he doesnt cut it. 

However, I thought the same about Zarco after his capitulation at KTM.  Maybe there's a team manager that thinks they can fix the dude.  If only they could give him the magic ingredient/kick up the backside that will set him back on the winning track.

We know the guy is fast enough to win at the very top level.  He can do it.  Exactly what it's going to take to unlock the true potential inside the guy is the million dollar question.  Or, he might simply retire from the sport.  It's not like he needs to ride to pay his bills and with a wife and newborn child at home he might 'do a Casey' and decide a happy stress free life away from the limelight is the one for him.

M

Thanks David! Riveted. 

Have until now given zero thought to him going Duc. It makes so little sense. Unless...what has he been thinking about staring at the tail of an unpassable Red bike lap after lap? "I could win with that thing!"?

Not impossible, is it?

MV had his chance to be on a big red bike this year but was greedy for Yamaha Dollars!

No grip, no grip I need more power and traction to overtake! You ask ANY Motogp rider at any point in a race weekend and he will give you that quote. These boys are the best at what they do, the bar is set fantastically high. Their all continually having problems and working with their teams to get solutions- nothing comes easy .I think MV is always looking for something that’s impossible to achieve, perfection! Maybe that’s his problem and whats doing his head in?

If you watch the onboard you can see that Bagnaia made a mistake on the lap Fabio got past him for good. It looks like Bagnaia was having issues with the rights following mandeveen, starts off the race getting the bike good and tight through the middle of duikersloot for a nice exit and keeps good speed through meeuwenmeer. Nowhere near what Fabio is carrying through there but enough to keep him behind until the chicane.

Then for 3 laps Fabio nearly rear ends Bagnaia on the exit of meeuwenmeer, difficult to say how much of that is Fabio carrying even more speed than the previous couple of laps or Bagnaia is struggling but he is struggling. On the next lap between mandeveen and duikersloot Bagnaia is a good metre or more to the inside and on the exit of duikersloot as he winds the power on he just washes out to the kerb unable to ask anything of the bike. To a Yamaha at that point on the track it was a done deal, Fabio mentioned in the press conference that it was unexpected to pass at that point.

The previous 3 laps were quite reminiscent of Rossi rear ending Lorenzo's Ducati at the same spot. The Ducati was a sitting duck there this weekend and the difference in speed was crazy, very much 'old style' Ducati weakness. They can count their lucky stars there's no PI this year.

Cadillac often pops into my mind whenever i see the Ducati this year. I do have some kind of internal resistance against calling any Ducati ugly, especially when it's painted red, but this years Ducati is one big fat ugly Cadillac. Finally the debate in my mind bears fruit...yes there is a beauty to the engineering, yes they are wonders to behold....but there's a whole different aesthetic to bikes and the Ducati is butt ugly.

Ducati=>Abomination, been saying it for years. Don't care if it wins the title. A bike that doesn't corner, that relies on blocking proper faster bikes is an abomination. Looking at MotoGP, I'd buy a Yamaha street bike over a Ducati any day.

I know what you're saying. Myself i don't judge how they get from a to b on the spectrum, they are at one end but somewhere between them and Suzuki is every other bike. All can make nice interesting shapes on the track when ridden with abandon but the aero is starting to hurt my eyes.

There is a real beauty to the bikes in some respects. You cast your eyes along the swing arms forward to the frames and take it all in. The attention to detail, like a work of art. Beautiful machines some of them.

Then you step back a bit further. All that detail blurs and suddenly you're Jack Sparrow facing down the Davy Jones Ducati about to be swallowed up in aero. When it drops the rear it looks even worse. If you're not close enough to look at the details or if the bike isn't in a race why would you look at it ? Why would you do that to your brain ? They're not alone, the Yamaha now starts to resemble an alien from that movie independence day. I think only the Honda and Suzuki have really managed to carry wings with style but even they are starting to show a hollowing of the cheeks. I think the paint does a lot, Honda/Suzuki, carbon black, understated, classic painted lines behind the wings. The Ducati, a mix of red and black, obvious, stands out, makes it look even bigger than it is, causes vertigo, scares children.

Rarrarararar rant over.

Unlike the Cadillac, the Ducati's is singularly focused on speed. In my eyes the Ducati in drag bike mode is beautiful, like a red shark eating up the straight. I agree that it is a different aesthetic. The aero on all the bikes is a bit messy when compared to yesterday's bikes. It is not so easy on the eye. But it does work, it makes the bikes accelerate and brake better.

They all look like shite. I'd ban any aero add-ons, and for good measure the frickin' start/drop the drawers in a straight-line mechanisms. Mfrs claim they're racing to improve their street bikes -- care to tell me how much use either of those would be to your average street bike?

Well this will shake the grid up, with most likely two Yamahas going spare.

At the start of the year I thought Vinales looked strong.  I thought his baby and wedding had maybe contributed to him being more calm and up for it.  It could also be that travelling and being apart from his daughter is adding to his frustration.

Morbidelli seems like an obvious choice to promote to the factory team. But then, he has also been openly critical of Yamaha this year which could count against him.

Keep up the good work David

I am sure there is a Turkish rider in WSBK who would be a good fit on the Petronas Yamaha next year - trouble is there is the little matter of the energy drink sponsor conflict!

I predict they'll lose him altogether, and then they'll really have problems.  Impending Rossi retirement, Viñales throwing a fit and walking out, angry Petronas over the bike cost issue... throw an overlooked Morbidelli into the mix and I think you have the recipe for Petronas moving to another manufacturer, Yamaha having only 2 bikes on the grid, and no one really rushing to fill the second seat. 

I'll say it again... Lin Jarvis.  How bad does an operation need to get before someone looks at the guy running it? 

Its been a really poor year for Petronas - Rossi hasnt done a great deal on the bike and even Morbidelli cant weave his magic on a year old bike like in 2020. How much influence does Jarvis have over the Petronas team - if you supply bikes that can only be ridden well by 1 team member out of 4 then its not a good luck. Could be worse - imagine being head of Honda and having to explain poor performance 2 years running.

... for many years now, because I understand Alberto Puig's type.  He's not a leader, he's a commander.  Commanders absolutely will. not. tolerate anyone speaking against them.  It's "Do as I command, or I'll replace you with someone who will".  We've ALL worked for people like that. 

Puig is single-minded and bull-headed, which confuses many into thinking he's a strong leader.  But in reality, all it made him was a guy who stuck his head in the sand while people said and did the things he wanted.  He's been told for years that the Honda had a problem, but as long as Marquez kept riding around it and winning races, he stayed stuck in his "I'm right and you're wrong" mentality. 

It doesn't matter to me that Takeo Yokoyama outranks him, because I understand enough about Japanese culture to understand that the driver of the team culture is Alberto Puig.  Japanese business culture is the very antithesis of a singular personality standing out.

How bad is the Yamaha operation, really?  Aren't they leading the world championship?  Turning occasional fast laps is not enough to justfiy a #1 rider salary.

Saying that they're leading the championship misses the point.  Having one measure of success doesn't mean that there aren't still serious problems that need addressing.

Just ask Honda.  Did all of their championships mean that there wasn't a problem with the bike?  

I agree with you, though, that being the Undisputed King of Testing and setting an occasional hot lap isn't enough to justify Top Rider salaries.  He's simply failed to live up to any of the promise that preceded his arrival.

All I want is a perfect motorcycle and a perfect team and for the sun and moon to revolve around me. - MV probably

 

 

You certainly perfectly mirrored my own thoughts about MV (albeit much more articulately!), namely that his problems are between his ears.

Not sure I get the criticism of Lin Jarvis. The guy doesn't ride the bike or direct the technical team, as I understand it his job is mostly administrative.

Lin Jarvis isn't some innocent spectator, fumbling about with the paperwork like some sort of Walter Mitty while things happen around him that are out of his control. 

He's the Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing.  If it happens in MotoGP and it involves a Yamaha motorcycle, he's the man in charge.  Yes, Petronas is a separate team, but Jarvis oversees the part that has to do with applying motorcycles and any contacts signed by Yamaha. 

He is by no means an innocent bystander. 

Factory Team dynamics?  His responsibility.  Botched pricing contracts?  His responsibility.  Controlling rider outbursts?  His responsibility.  

Any way you look at it, the problems that have plagued Yamaha for years are all under Lin Jarvis' umbrella.  Just like how all of Honda's problems can be traced in some way back to "Alberto The Merciless" Puig.

People overlook leadership and think it's not important, but it's quite possibly THE most singularly important aspect of a team.  The man at the top sets the tone.  That's the hard truth. 

Don't believe me?  Watch Suzuki continue to crumble under their "Leadership by Committee" approach and then tell me if you think that the absence of a good leader (Davide Brivio) wasn't really important. 

Lol, racing isn't about perfection.  It's about being faster/better than the next guy/team.  Some of the comments are expecting some sort of team perfection that Vinales is expecting from the bike.  It is what it is, always has been.  The riders get paid the big bucks to ride around the imperfections of the machinery.  None of the teams want to be paying #1 salary to a #2 rider.

Aha, the catch. Personally i try to stick to the idea that any success is the theirs and any failure is mine. That's just demonstrating responsibility, accountability, being the one who shields his people from the ever present flak, it comes with the territory, Captain of the ship, last man off deck etc. It also bears little resemblance to what goes on behind closed doors.

Lets look at some of Lin's dance floor moves as seen from a distance.

Signs Valentino Rossi for 2004 and again for 2013. That has so far yielded...4 riders championships, 56 wins, 35 poles, 142 podiums and 3823 points.

Signs a very young Lorenzo mid way through 2007. That yielded...3 riders championships, 44 wins, 39 poles, 107 podiums and 2600 points.

Gives Quartararo a 2020 bike with factory support and a contract to the factory team for 2021. So far that's yielded...7 wins, 9 poles, 9 podiums and 283 points.

...but of course all success is the theirs not his. He's only the guy who put the team together.

If Lin could have done anything....he could have signed Marquez in 1993 and told me the winning lottery numbers while he was at it :)

No disrepect meant to bring back 2 strokes, and his/her passion for racing, and I disagree with wavey much of the time, but that was a well written rebutal. I can't fault Yamaha's record under LJ's stewardship. 

BTW, did you hear that Lin has quit Yamaha to run Aprilia Racing?  Ah, the irony.  wink

Yes he's the top of Yamaha Motor Racing, but if I'm not mistaken he can be replaced at the pleasure of Yamaha corporate.  That he hasn't says something about his abilities and talents.  It's not clear what exactly you think he's done wrong.

Just think of the superstars he's managed over the years (and successfully - multiple rider, team, and manufacturers championships).  Not an easy task to manage that level of talent.  MV is the only one I can recall ever expressing anywhere near this level of dissatisfaction with the factory Yamaha team.  In addition, I've always found him to give clear and direct answers when asked even difficult questions.  He comes across as very diplomatic and respectful to his team, his riders, and the fans.

....sets the tone for EVERYTHING!!! Perfect example is Tom Brady (for you that don't know, he's the GOAT quarterback in the NFL...American football). In short, he leaves the most winning team in the NFL, goes to the most losing team in the NFL, who had a 7-9 record the previous year, missing the playoffs, arrives and promptly takes the team to the Super Bowl and wins the WC. HE changed the culture, due to his leadership, work ethic, etc., got the team on board, and led them to the WC.  I know, motorcycle racing is different, but it's still a 'team' sport.  

MV is a classic example of 'potential', which translates to 2nd place. There is no perfect bike. Stoner and Marc are who they are because they know that and find a way to ride around the bike's problems/issues and still WIN! MV never will succed simply because he's looking for bike perfection and it doesn't exist. I actually thought, last year, MV had come to the conclusion he was the problem, when he said that Quat was winning/getting podiums on the same bike, so he just had to ride it. Nope. Since Quat came to the team, he hasn't whinned much....just gotta faster and faster. A rookie came into the team and kicked his ass and he can't handle it...the team must be the problem. Sad.

I'm hoping that HRC doesn't kill Marc before he can heal up and be back to be healthy.       

 

Vinales is 26 years old and I figured he was 30'ish. Shows how long he's been in MGP premier league and a single M3 title to his credit. Yamaha and Jarvis are well shot of Rossi (almost done) and now Vinales. The Aprilia rumour and Yamaha replacements are summer break intrigue. What a mess ! I expect the Rossi retirement announcement just prior to Misano. Vinales ? Were I in the hallowed position of offering rider contracts for any team/manufacturer, I would definitely avoid him. Assen pole, dropped to 4th and struggled race long to eventually get second ? Could not overtake ? Really ! Marquez 20th to 7th. Mir, Zarco, Oliveira, Binder ? Yamaha have world champion elect Quattararo in their stable and realistically no one else for next year. An injured Petronas contracted Franco Morbidelli and thats it. Might be a good move for Yamaha to do a Zarco/KTM deal with Vinales and have him pack his bags as of now ! Give Franco and Petronas the factory bike. Draft in one of their test riders to complete the season  (Crutchlow if interested), while they weigh options and make overtures to young guns in the M3 and M2 pipelines.

Why wait for the end of the season? Just do it. And there's a semi-retired No. 04 who'd probably rather get on a factory Yamaha than fool around with a yet-to-make-it Aprilia ...

If Vinales has no leverage on Yamaha, Dovi certainly won't either.  Dovi could be drafted to sub for Morbidelli, but not seeing a full time factory ride for Dovi.  Quartaroro is Yamaha's #1; every other rider they sign is #2 or Jr team.

Yeah, Yamaha is not hurting leading the championship. Wishcasting: promote Morbidelli, and put Razgatlıoğlu & Gerloff on Petronas jr team with previous year equipment.

We JUST had Zarco from Orange nadir prove perhaps 2/3rds of us very wrong and lots of crow was eaten. Hedge our bets just a wee in case? Comeback stories are cool.

Remembering back I was sure that Ducati had picked the wrong Andrea when we had Dovi picked over Iannone just after a seagull had exploded on his crosshairs. #29 had done a few brilliant things to rewatch and praise! Talent, balls (and had my old number and colors, literally biased me). I was SO wrong. Some things are easier to see than others. 

Looking fwd to what is next.

MV is clearly a talent and there is no denying that. We saw him excel in moto2, Suzuki, and plenty of times at Yamaha. But from my personal perspective, I think Maveric has a weakness in his mental game. We saw him time after time trying to hit the reset button and zero everything out. The number change, changing his crew chief, and now this other crew chief change. He focuses on external factors as if they are the issue. But I think MV is adrift in his own mind.

You can call it whatever you want but what it all boils down to is his inability to manage the situation when it lands in his lap. Changes in track conditions, or an imperfect setup. All the greatest riders have commented on how important it is to get the job done on race day no matter what you have under you. He's never been able to do it all that well. If anything is wrong, goes wrong, or is wrong in his mind it becomes a mountain impossible to overcome.

That's why he's so good when testing. There's no one out there getting in his way or messing stuff up for him, just the fine technical challenge of making the bike faster all on his own. When FQ is fast but in a sticky situation you can see him coming up with alternative plans and using risk when he needs to in order to make a move stick. Obviously, MV is an amazing rider but being a fast rider and being a fast racer are two entirely different things.

I saw some comments about the tires and wile the tires may not be perfect everyone is in the same boat. Perfect tires or crap tires don't make any difference. The racers with both the skill and the will always rise to the top. 

Honestly, I'm uneasy about him possibly going to Aprilia but heck... I could be dead wrong.

"wile the tires may not be perfect everyone is in the same boat."

The preceding may not be true in the real world.

There have been many rider-generated reports of the Michelins being inconsistent from one batch to the next. I'm not implying a conspiracy, but it's apparent Michelin isn't providing a consistent product. 

 

"Perfect tires or crap tires don't make any difference."

 

That's simply not true.

Tires are the most important part of the motorcycle.

 

Obviously tires are the most important part. The point im trying to make is it's impossible to say to what degree Michelin's tires impact the race as it relates to their performance across all bikes and riders. How would you coralate the relationship of the tires performance with so manny varriables?? Especially from the coutch. 

All im trying to imply is that the guy who crosses the line first wins. No matter what tires you've got, no matter what bike, and no matter the setup. My comment is pointed squarely at MV's sporadic performance during his time in MotoGP. His, (or anyone's) pointing at the tires as not being consistant for him or something just doesn't hold allot of water for me. Especially when you relate it to the performance and consistancy of many other riders over the same timeframe. 

The article by David Emmett and the following discussion.

I wonder what goes through Maverick's head when he's supremely quick in Practice and Qualifying, but it all goes pear shaped in the race. I think David summed it up fantastically in his article when writing about what Maverick and Fabio did differently at Assen.

 

David's on a roll. Two predictions in a row. He's totally in the zone. I expect more primo content during during the summer break.

Thanks! 

P.S. I enjoy myself while reading the content and listening to the podcasts on motomatters.com. That's my definition of fun. If anyone gives a hoot. Well...to each their own I guess (definition of fun, opinions, interpretations, conclusions etc.).

I have a different theory.  In 2020, Franco was on fire the last half of the season.  Where's he been this year?  Things progress year to year but Franco dropped off the map.  Valentino....while 2020 was wildly inconsident for Yamaha, Vale did show signs last year, leading races, at the front, but he crashed a number of times, got Covid, etc.  But you could see the competiveness there.  Perhaps he was over-riding the M1, but he was at the pointy end.  Perhaps ambition getting the better of him, crashing multiple times at the front.  Fabio was also up and down, inconsisent.

Flash forward to 2021.  Fabio is the only one doing anything on the M1 track to track.  Vale is in the rear with the gear.  Franco is no where.  Mav is either highest of highs (Qatar) or lowest of lows (Sausagering).  So Maverick is not the only Yamaha rider with these problems.  One, I don't think Vale dropped off a cliff in terms of age, skill, whatever, in 6 months.  Neither do I think Morbidelli just suddenly hit a brick wall, with himself, or the motorcycle.  Maverick may be a head case but something is up with that factory.  My gut tells me, like the 00's or 90's, perhaps Yamaha is wrapping the M1 and development of it, completely around El Diablo and the rest are just having to deal with it.  Say what you will about Maverick, Vale, or Franco, but there is this thing called reality.  Saying it's all Mav, is bull.  Saying it's all Yamaha probably isn't 100% either.  The truth is usually in the middle.  I believe that to be the case and I think Maverick is onto something here.  It wasn't that far back in time where a Japanese figure head at Yamaha was holding a press conference to apologize to them publicly.  Something I have never seen before with the Japanese, ever.  I can only speculate, but the other three Yamaha riders are struggling.  The bike has been extremely inconsisent for years but seeing these 3 riders go through this in 2021 tells me a nice big fat chunk is the M1 or Yamaha.  It's sus.

This is all a part of a broader generational change that is sweeping through our soap opera cast. We need new villians and heroes and the old crew are on the way out. The factories have all had a year to sit back and try and figure out what to do. Poor performance can't be tolerated at peak level of any sport and it's nor just the riders who will take the fall. 2022 offers plenty of opportunity for some senior factory crew to take the opportunity to smell the roses.

Zarco had the guts to know he wasn't coping and took the first opportunity to prove all the nay sayers wrong. He's now second in the championship with consistent finishes that he (in his own way) is very happy about. (Side note - what's the difference between his sad and happy face? Haven't worked it out yet). MV is not happy and hasn't been forever. At first I thought it was the Rossi factor but now he's gone so has that excuse. 

Yamaha are in the same hole as Honda. They have a great rider, FarQ, who is capable of working out and riding around the bike problems. Everyone else is struggling be it for mental or mechanical reasons. Same at Honda. Magic Marc (his winning run at REd Bull ring is MUCH longer. At least 11 inches of news column) is brilliant at that. Both those riders are mentally tough, one of them as tough as teak, the other as tough as teak that has a few flaws (for now)

I look at the times coming in from Moto2 and the 6 or so secs difference between them and GP is costing teams 15 million Euros per bike at least (well I'm just guessing..... David do you know what the cost difference would be?). My point being is that I look at the progress made by KTM who have chosen well with crew and riders and they are a family. I look at Petronas ..... same until an enforced rider change this year. Suzuki were on the same path with Brivio ..... (Please AR pull your finger out and stop crashing). The harmony of the team is what makes these riders comforfatble with the knowledge they can push harder than what they thought they could and do it for the team, not just themselves. They aren't financially well off but over achieve and punch well above their weight.

Aprillia need to think very carefully if they are considering MV. He is a very good rider but not a good team man and I'd rather have someone who will listen and learn, then provide considered feedback to help improve the team.

 

PS> Dear Herve, I haven't heard from you in a while .... in fact I haven't really heard from you. Just letting you know that my busted shoulder is better and now that I've had my foot operated on all I have to do is get over the 4 bulging discs in my back and I'll be as good as gold. If there is any chance of a position as rider / test rider coming up soon I'd love to be considered. It will have to wait until I have my 63rd birthday later this year though because I intend to go on a bit of a bender to celebrate and it may take a month or two to get over. I figure that with the current crop of older riders making themselves available I should have a crack at it too. Oh and before I forget, I've learned how to get into 3rd gear now and figured out the difference between those two pesky front levers on the handlebars (Who'd have thought that you would have a brake at you right hand). Oh and I sold my scooter as well so I'm all funded up to fly over but you might need to lend me a few Euros so I can stay somewhere. One last thing. Can you please stop looking away from me when you know I'm watching yopu on TV ..... I have feelings too you know! Anyway take care and Vive la Tech Trois (see my French is getting better too :-)

Funny old game.

Nine races ago...Fabio is weak mentally, he could have won the championship in 2020 but threw it away. You can see it in his childish tantrums and once the pressure came he cracked. Franco is the complete rider now, so smooth and relaxed, nothing phases him. Despite having a year old Yamaha and the slowest bike through the traps he's come up top Yamaha. Polished performance. Maybe a change of team will help Rossi recover some form. The Petronas team under Wilco is a far better outfit, who knows maybe he can grab a win or two.

Eight races ago...Fabio 2nd on the grid, Maverick 3rd. Maverick falls back to 6th off the start, Fabio to 5th. Despite having to get past several Ducati and his team mate Maverick works his way through the field and takes the lead for the start of lap 15. Fabio struggles some, finishes 5th.

Eight races later and of course much has changed. Has the underlying situation really changed so much ?

Zarco is always a good reminder for me. 2017/2018, Tech 3 Yamaha. Very similar but less end result as Franco last year. In fact often much quicker than Franco has been in qually. The comparisons made to the factory boys, Zarco deserves the right bike. +One year and he's mentally fragile, can't rider around a cone let alone a bike problem, mercurial, fast but flawed and now it's over. No coming back from this. +One more year and he's being touted for the championship.

I really don't see much to worry about at Yamaha. Rossi is at the end, alas. Maverick will win more this year or at the very least be one of the guys to watch and very possibly find a large chunk of form now he is free. Franco's 2020, some in 2021, shows he has a big bag of talent, 2 year old -step bike, shagged knee...hard year. Yamaha will have the chance to put two new riders up next year and probably retain their two biggest winners of the last 2 years...the two most winning riders (Oliveira tied with Franco) in the field over 2020/2021. I bet Bastianini wishes he was a free agent.

However, it's all very uncertain

Mav is phenomenal in testing why? Because he can have a free track in front of him...Took me a while to work this out and when I did, I identified with his eccentricity somewhat because of this analogy.. which is..  that I sleep better when I'm alone in bed! All that uncompromising free space to roll about without being yelled at...I'm so refreshed and ready to take on the world!! Once you're past 35, sex is great but sleep is even better, especially if theres kids with sleeping issues!! Sharing isn't caring it would seem in this instance and perhaps that's the sort of chap Mav is and if so then it's going to get worse with diaper duty..I hope Nina is a good sleeper! I digress..Anyway his complaints are always about being stuck behind the Ducatis or the Hondas..He's happy to overtake Yamaha's but throws a complete wobbly if it's anybody else.... Ive got new for you Mav, the day you get on the Aprilia, there will be 2 more ducatis on track for you to get past!!! But thats racing Mav....you play your cards as best you can while the others play theirs... Aprilia better watch out because he's not just the king of testing, he's also the king of pain!! 

Was really funny and a pretty good observation to boot. Well played!

And yet we had that about Ducati, for everyone but Casey? Now It is a squadron right behind the front guy. Zarco just did the same gravel trap scat from Orange. Or, we used to have the inverse at Honda, the V5 was the only thing to win on - now it is only ridden by an Alien. And...Mir just won a championship on a Suzuki. 

Weirder stuff has happened than Maverick gelling synergistically with the emerging Aprilia! (Or Colin going from the fireball. Oh, don't forget the Haga crash rate for that list, his replica Arai should have come w scuffs). This is no Cube!

Popcorn out!