Yamaha benches Vinales for Austrian MotoGP, accuses him of deliberate damage

Maverick Vinales has been suspended from this weekend's Austrian MotoGP by his own Yamaha team over accusations of causing deliberate damage to M1

Maverick Vinales - Yamaha Factory Racing

Yamaha has sensationally dropped Maverick Vinales from this weekend’s Austrian MotoGP over a curiously worded ‘unexplained operation of motorcycle’ claim.

In a surprise twist in a relationship between team and rider that has fractured over the course of the 2021 MotoGP season, Yamaha says it won’t be entering the M1 because of ‘significant’ damage to the damage, which it accuses Vinales of causing.

Though Yamaha doesn’t go into detail what damage Vinales is said to have caused, or how, the strongly worded statement will send ripples across the paddock.

"Yamaha regrets to announce that Maverick Viñales‘ entry to this weekend‘s Austrian MotoGP event has been withdrawn by the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team.

"The absence follows the suspension of the rider by Yamaha due to the unexplained irregular operation of the motorcycle by the rider during last weekend‘s Styria MotoGP race.

"Yamaha‘s decision follows an in-depth analysis of telemetry and data over the last days.

"Yamaha‘s conclusion is that the rider‘s actions could have potentially caused significant damage to the engine of his YZR-M1 bike which could have caused serious risks to the rider himself and possibly posed a danger to all other riders in the MotoGP race.

"The rider will not be replaced at the Austrian GP.

"Decisions regarding the future races will be taken after a more detailed analysis of the situation and further discussions between Yamaha and the rider.

What is the background to Yamaha’s claims?

In what has been a rollercoaster season for Vinales, the Spaniard went on to endure a disappointing Styrian MotoGP due to what he claimed was down to technical gremlins.

After a strong getaway in the first start, Vinales says Yamaha changed his clutch following the red flag stoppage but when he engaged it for the sighting lap restart, it cut the engine out. He’d go on to start the race from the pit lane.

“They changed the clutch because they were afraid of last year after the restart, when the clutch was very hot and slipping," he said after the race.

"I went to the box, they changed the clutch, they changed the tyre and everything was different. I just released the clutch and the bike stopped. Really strange. I don't know why. I did exactly the same at the previous start."

This episode will likely call into question whether Vinales will be seen on the Yamaha Factory M1 again this season amid a relationship that has become strained over the course of 2021.

Though the season began well for the Spaniard with victory in the opening round at Qatar, his form has otherwise fluctuated, leading to the revelation that he will be exiting the team at the end of the season, a year ahead of schedule.

It remains to be seen, however, whether a one-race suspension will activate a clause in that contract for the parties to part ways early.

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