Maverick Vinales all set to quit Yamaha for shock Aprilia 2022 MotoGP switch

Maverick Vinales' patience with Yamaha is set to expire before end of his contract amid strong talk he has already signed to join Aprilia i in 2022 MotoGP.

Maverick Vinales - Yamaha Factory Racing 2021

UPDATE: Yamaha has since confirmed Maverick Vinales will leave the team at the end of the 2021 MotoGP season - MORE HERE

He may have been back on the podium in the Netherlands this weekend but it appears the fracturing relationship between Maverick Vinales and Yamaha is coming to a premature end in favour of a sensational switch to Aprilia for the 2022 MotoGP World Championship.

Though all parties have remained tight-lipped as word spread,  it is understood Vinales and Yamaha have reached a mutual agreement to part ways at the end of the year with the 26-year old set to take up the available Aprilia spot alongside Aleix Espargaro in 2022.

Vinales joined Yamaha in 2017 following a two-year spell at Suzuki , but while he has achieved eight wins since his debut it has been interspersed with curious slumps in form that have negated any title challenge.

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This has been no more apparent than in 2021 with Vinales opening the season with a dominant win in Qatar before struggling with his form in the ensuing races, right up to his second place finish in Assen this weekend. 

However, even this result came just a week after he qualified and finished last for the German MotoGP, which in turn came in the wake of rhetoric that made it clear Vinales was seeking a way out of Yamaha even if his contract ran until the end of 2023.

With Vinales stepping up this ill-temper by saying he ‘doesn’t feel respected’ coming into the Assen weekend, the exit coupled with Yamaha’s co-operation - though seismic - has surprised few.

What does that mean for the rest of the 2022 MotoGP grid?

The deal means Andrea Dovizioso would be frozen out of negotiations having spent months evaluating a possible return with a trio of tests on the Aprilia RS-GP. However, it was believed he was already leaning towards rejecting a race deal in favour of assuming a development role similar to that of Dani Pedrosa at KTM.

It also opens up vacancies at Yamaha, who could have two seats available across its two teams should Valentino Rossi retire at the end of the year or switch to his own VR46 Racing outfit. 

Franco Morbidelli would be a strong tip to join Fabio Quartararo in the Factory line-up, while Petronas SRT Yamaha - assuming Rossi doesn’t continue there - would likely put one of its proteges, Xavi Vierge, in the seat.

Alongside him could be Moto2 title contender Raul Fernandez amid talk of a scramble for the Spaniard’s signature in the wake of Vinales’ shift. The youngster has just picked up his third win of the Moto2 season in Assen to close the gap to KTM Ajo team-mate Remy Gardner in the title battle,

With Gardner already confirmed to Tech 3 KTM in 2022, Fernandez was expected to take in another season of Moto2 next year. However, with Yamaha keen to buy him out of his deal with the Austrian manufacturer, KTM could alternatively step up its plans for Fernadez by promoting him alongside Gardner too.