Maverick Vinales admits he was ‘open minded’ about leaving Yamaha

Maverick Vinales says he had kept an 'open mind' about leaving Yamaha for another team amid rumours linking him to Ducati and Suzuki

Maverick Vinales - Yamaha

Maverick Vinales has revealed he was keeping an ‘open mind’ about the prospect of leaving Yamaha for a rival MotoGP team prior to committing to the Japanese manufacturer for another two seasons.

The Spaniard found himself as one of three riders vying over Yamaha Factory seats for 2021 and 2022 alongside brand stalwart Valentino Rossi and young upstart Fabio Quartararo, despite scoring two wins in 2019 and finishing third overall in the standings.

The lack of clarity over his future duly prompted rival teams – Ducati and potentially Suzuki – to enquire about his services for 2021 and beyond before Yamaha moved to secure both Vinales and Quartararo for its rider line-up.

Indeed, though Vinales says he was fully focused on training for the 2020 season, he admits he was keeping an open mind about other options if Yamaha hesitated on committing to him for 2021.

“I had an open mind,” he said. “I said previously when I finished the championship, this year is a good opportunity for me. Because we have improved a lot, I have my team, and I am fully committed to be able to fight for the championship. I feel now that I'm ready.

“Physically, mentally, with the team, I think we can do it. I was not thinking too much about whether to leave or to stay, I was just focusing on myself, trying to be better. To be around the people who will help me improve, and I was not really thinking about moving or not moving teams. Finally, I was thinking, if Yamaha prefer this, I will move.

“If Yamaha don't prefer this, I will wait. But finally, somehow I felt good support from Yamaha and we went to the factory, we saw very positive things, and after we signed the contract. And now I have three opportunities to win the title, to try as hard as I can. So I'm going to take advantage of this, and we're going to be fully committed to do it.”

Ducati to ‘wait’ on rider decisions for 2021

Though it now has four riders trying to impress on current spec GP20s – plus an ambitious Johann Zarco on the Avintia machine – Ducati boss Gigi Dall’Igna says the manufacturer is in no rush to decide on its riders for 2021 and beyond.

For now Andrea Dovizioso appears fairly safe depending on whether he wants to stay – or whether he’ll use Ducati’s limited options to up his salary demands – while Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller are expected to resume their battle for the factory seat currently held by the Italian, while Pecco Bagnaia could spring a surprise himself.

“Each manufacturer makes its own assessments and is obliged to speak with all the riders on the market, because you never know what will happen. In my opinion, Suzuki also contacted Vinales,” Dall’Igna told GPOne. “Right now the most reasonable thing for us I think is to wait a bit…”