Maverick Vinales put together a lot of laps on the second day of testing in Losail, almost more than any other rider on the track. With 70 laps, Morbidelli was actually the recordman, yet Maverick was right behind him with 68. He should have been tired at the end of the day, after a lot of work spent on an M1 that increasingly seems tailor-made for his needs.
Actually, the Vinales who came to his media debrief was visibly calm and relaxed, aware of having a great opportunity in his hands and perhaps of being able to repeat his triumphant race at Losail with which he started his career as a factory Yamaha rider in 2017. Maverick didn’t do anything to hide his satisfaction and also claimed to have further margin for improvement on the 2020-spec M1.
"I can still improve my confidence with this bike - said Vinales - I feel I have some leeway. Today, for example, I tried to follow some riders to understand if we had made any steps forward in overtaking and I believe we have. I feel stronger now than I felt in 2019. We have to wait for the race for confirmation. I'm excited, I feel more potential in myself than in the new bike. I'm happy because the fast laps are coming easy for me, so we're really okay."
So, we still haven't seen your limit on this M1?
"Tomorrow I will really push hard to understand exactly where we are. I am quite excited, because the bike is responding well. We have never lost our direction and we have always been focused. I feel really good right now, I am riding well, and we are collecting a lot of important information. It seems to me that every change we make goes in the right direction, so I have enough confidence and I'm really satisfied."
Did you complete today's work program?
"We did more or less the same job as yesterday, trying to better understand both the set-up of the bike and the way the tyres work. We made a small step forward, but I think we can improve further. I will need to do a few more laps tomorrow. We tried many solutions today and I was happy because this will allow me to focus more on myself, on riding and on the lines. The fact that we have tried all the available tyres also helps us, because tomorrow we can only work with one type of tyre and focus on other aspects. I did several laps with the soft tyre to see if it could be a solution to use in the race."
Have you already chosen the tyre you will race with?
"We have not yet decided which tyre to race with, because the weather is likely to be slightly different on the weekend of the Grand Prix. The important thing is that the bike works well with all three tyres, so we really did a great job of adapting to them".
Did you also try some technical innovation today?
"I only tried some aerodynamic innovations, but the program is over. I feel so good because the bike is ready and every time, I want to push more I feel comfortable. I have a very precise idea of how I want my bike to be and tomorrow we will put everything together to do a general test. Tomorrow we will push our hardest to see where we are right now".
What about the engine, where do you think you are?
"In my opinion, we are not doing badly with the engine, I think the situation is better than last year. Today I followed Miller who is always one of the fastest and I think the situation is much better than in 2019. I am happy with Yamaha's work".
Is it enough to fight on equal terms?
"I think that when you're behind Jack, speed is never enough, because he's always the fastest rider! But Yamaha have worked well, so I'm satisfied."
Seeing as you followed him, did you notice anything strange on corner exit? Does the new device work in your opinion?
"Miller's bike is very low on the straight. I also noticed it in other circumstances; when it accelerates the bike goes down a lot. I can't see the precise movement when it happens, but it is clear that on the straight it is much lower than our bike. How does the device work, can you explain it to me?"
With a button similar to that on mountain bikes, it’s used to lock the monoshock in position and then unlock it.
"Well, thanks for the explanation! I'm going to tell the Yamaha guys!".