Maverick Vinales is now a free man, or rather a free rider. After the mutual agreement reached with Yamaha to immediately terminate the contract that bound them, the Spanish rider can begin to think about his future with Aprilia. His 2022 contract is already in black and white, but having ended his relationship with Yamaha means getting on the RS-GP shortly, and Massimo Rivola is already working on a plan.
Lorenzo Savadori will keep his place for the rest of the season, but we might still be seeing Maverick race from now until Valencia on the Italian bike. The Noale constructor is under concessions, so they'll be taking advantage of six wild cards during the season, which haven’t been used yet.
Before joining the fray, of course, Vinales must test the RS-GP, also because he’s always ridden only motorcycles with a straight-four engine in Suzuki first and then in Yamaha, and the V4 is a novelty for him. The plan is for a test at Misano at the end of the month, on August 31st and September 1st, which will be Maverick’s first time on the Aprilia, then they’ll talk about the future.
Much, if not all, will depend on those tests to decide when and where to deploy the third RS-GP. In the best of cases, it could already happen in the Aragon or Misano GPs, scheduled for September, or they could decide to organize other tests before signing him up for a race.
This last surplus of the season is a kind of unexpected gift for Aprilia and Vinales. A bonus to be used intelligently in view of 2022. A kind of long test. Neither the company nor the rider need to prove anything at this point. They can simply focus on getting to know each other better so they can start next season on the right foot. Recent examples have shown how switching from one bike to another in the MotoGP is not at all simple (just see what happened to Petrucci and Pol Espargarò this season). So, having a few months to break the ice, without the haste or anxiety of results, is valuable.
In the current MotoGP calendar, there are still seven races left. Considering that Vinales will not be at Silverstone, he could participate in all of them, but that’s an unlikely hypothesis. Even racing three or four would be enough and extremely important to prepare for the future. We’ll just have to wait to know what the earliest date will be.