An 8th time and the 3rd row are a clear step forward for Vinales, who had a hard time getting to grips with his Aprilia. Maverick is still not up to par with his teammate, Aleix Espargarò, but his performances is progressing, even though he's still quite behind, in 14th in the overall standings, while Aleix is second.
With a 7th place as best result in Argentina, the former Yamaha rider is convinced he can have a good race in Barcelona, and that’s why he’s struggling as he expresses his feelings at the end of qualifying.
"We’re not satisfied. We want more. The front row,” Maverick said and added, “I made a mistake in the second lap with the tire. I had Aleix in my slipstream, and I didn't get the first corner, so I aborted. But it was a good day. We tested the bike and the tires. We’re ready for tomorrow."
What do you need to reach your teammate?
“We could make the front row, but I'm not okay yet. I’m not riding naturally. I’m thinking too much about what I have to do. Anyway, I got a good start at Mugello. Here I’m starting eighth, and there’s a long straight ahead. My target is fourth or fifth place. I feel competitive in the final laps.”
Everyone is talking about a big tire problem. There will be a big drop towards the end of the race.
"We want to be up front as soon as possible, but we know we need time. Then I have to wait for Michelin to give us the tire wear numbers. In the FP4, with the used ones, I was sixth. With new tires, I would’ve been first or second.”
So you have your pace?
“With the soft ones, I could probably reach to the finish. I'm curious. My confidence in the second part of the race should be good. With the medium, a lot more. I know it's a risk. I have to be able to pass my opponents in the first two or three laps. If we are within the wear limit, we’ll see. Many will use the hard ones, but that's not an option for us. I repeat. I have to pass the others in the first laps. If we’re within the wear limits, I’ll start with the soft."
Seeing you from outside, you look more natural riding the RS-GP.
“I’m becoming confident, and every race is better. Tomorrow I’ll be able to recuperate many positions. The more laps I do with the bike, the better I get.”