OFFICIAL: Maverick Vinales to leave Yamaha at end of 2021 MotoGP season

Yamaha confirms Maverick Vinales will EXIT the Factory team at the end of the 2021 MotoGP season; A move to Aprilia Racing beckons in 2022.

Maverick Vinales - Yamaha Factory Racing 2021

Maverick Vinales will exit Yamaha at the end of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season, it has been officially confirmed. 

Rumours of the Spaniard’s impending exit emerged over the Dutch TT weekend and while the man himself was remaining tight-lipped on Sunday in the wake of his podium finish at Assen, Yamaha has now made it formal.

Eight-time MotoGP race winner Vinales - whose Yamaha deal was supposed to run into next season - is set to join Aprilia Racing for the 2022 MotoGP season alongside Aleix Espargaro.

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"It is with sadness that we will say farewell to Maverick at the end of the year," added Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis. "We are in the middle of our fifth season together and over the years we have achieved many highs but also had to manage many lows.

"After the German GP, which was the most difficult weekend of our partnership, we had important discussions in Assen and came to the conclusion that it would be in the interest of both parties to go our separate ways in the future.

"Yamaha will put in their maximum effort – as we always have done – to give full support to Maverick and finish this season in the very best way possible."

Saschsenring flop the final straw for ‘disrespected’ Vinales

As Jarvis refers to above, it was Vinales’ desperate showing in the German MotoGP a week ago that ultimately led to the agreement of a premature split.

At the Sachsenring Vinales endured a torrid weekend after qualifying on the last row and proceeded to make no progress up the order, finishing last of all in a race that saw his championship leading team-mate Fabio Quartararo get on the podium.

Though Vinales responded this weekend with a pole position and a run to second in the race, the seven days typify a tenure at Yamaha that has lurched from some hugely impressive victories - including one this season in Qatar - to other inexplicably lacklustre results.

Indeed, Vinales sparked rumours of an early exit during the Catalunya MotoGP earlier this month when he made it clear he would be considering options carefully come contract renewal time. Though he had a year left to run on his contract, the words were seen as a veiled message that he is seeking an early exit.

After stepping up his rhetoric in Assen by saying he ‘doesn’t feel respected’ at Yamaha, this confirmation - though sensational - doesn’t come as a big surprise.

Maverick Vinales set to join Aprilia in 2022 MotoGP

Despite a dearth of viable options open to him for 2022, Vinales is believed to have already put pen to paper on a deal to join Aprilia Racing in what is a coup for the Italian outfit.

The team has spent some months chasing the signature of Andrea Dovizioso, who has conducted a series of tests during a sabbatical enforced by his Ducati exit. However, his reluctance to put pen to paper is believed to be a precursor to him becoming Aprilia’s development rider for 2022 in a similar role to that of Dani Pedrosa at KTM.

It gives Aprilia - which will split from Gresini Racing and take its MotoGP in house next season - a very eye-catching set-up in 2022 despite its modest success since returning to the top flight in 2015.

Even so, while Aprilia’s best finish since then is pinned to only a sixth place result - achieved six times now - Espargaro has proven a more consistent top ten contender this year. 

The addition of Vinales and Dovizioso, coupled to the concessions it receives with free testing, could make Aprilia a genuine threat in 2022.