OFFICIAL: Maverick Vinales will NOT return to Yamaha MotoGP

Yamaha decides to terminate its contract with Maverick Vinales with immediate effect, sidelining him for the remainder of the 2021 MotoGP season

Maverick Vinales - Yamaha Factory Racing

Yamaha has confirmed Maverick Vinales will not return to its team for the remainder of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship after terminating his contract with immediate effect.

The decision - made after a meeting of board members on Thursday - comes in the wake of the Spaniard being suspended for the Austrian MotoGP when footage emerged of his deliberately damaging his Yamaha M1’s engine in frustration at a bad result in the earlier Styrian MotoGP.

Bringing an end to a saga that has twisted and turned over the course of the 2021 MotoGP season, Vinales was already set to exit the Yamaha squad at the end of the season - a year earlier than planned - but the sensational incident at the Red Bull Ring has led to a decision to part ways immediately.

In a statement from Yamaha, Lin Jarvis suggested Vinales had reneged on a commitment to see out the season professionally following the decision to break contract at the end of the year.

Yamaha says it has not made a decision regarding who will replace him but Cal Crutchlow is considered the most likely candidate to pair Fabio Quartararo.

“In Assen Yamaha and Viñales already announced the mutual decision to cut short their original 2021-2022 programme and to finish it at the end of 2021. 

“A commitment was made by both rider and team to continue to the end of the current season, with the team guaranteeing its full support and the rider giving his maximum efforts so that we could finish the project 'in style'.

“Regretfully at the Styrian GP the race did not go well or end well and consequently after deep consideration by both parties, the mutual decision was reached that it would be better for both parties if we end the partnership earlier. 

“The early separation will release the rider to be free to follow his chosen future direction and will also permit the team to focus its efforts on the remaining races of the 2021 season with a replacement rider – yet to be determined.

“I would like to express Yamaha‘s sincere gratitude to Maverick. Yamaha will continue to cherish the good memories and appreciate the work both parties put into the 4.5 years spent together that brought us 8 race victories, 24 podiums, and two third places in the 2017 and 2019 overall rider standings. We wish Maverick all the very best in his future endeavours.” 

Vinales joined Yamaha from Suzuki in 2017 and proceeded to impress immediately with two wins on his first two race appearances. However, his form would fluctuate wildly over the course of the next four and a half seasons, not least in 2021 when he began the year with a win, only to struggle elsewhere.

Vinales exits Yamaha despite being seventh in the standings, with the move made all the more extraordinary in that it dents the Japanese firm’s hopes of winning the manufacturers’ title.

Despite the early exit, Vinales has a ride for the 2022 MotoGP season arranged, joining Aprilia Racing.