It has been a tumultuous first half of 2021 for Yamaha. With Fabio Quartararo comfortably leading the championship, Valentino Rossi announcing his retirement from MotoGP at the end of the season, and Maverick Viñales winning the first race and then dramatically splitting from Yamaha mid-season, there has been a lot going on.
On Saturday of the Styria Grand Prix, the first race at the Red Bull Ring, I spoke to Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing, about how their season has gone so far. We spoke about Valentino Rossi's retirement, and the impact he has had at and for Yamaha, and we talked about how Yamaha made the M1 more competitive after a difficult 2020.
We also talked about Maverick Viñales, though this was before the Spaniard's bizarre Styria race, in which a pit lane start and electrical gremlins saw him become so frustrated he took it out on his Yamaha M1, holding the bike on the stop in fifth gear rather than changing up. That led to a suspension and eventual split, but Jarvis' views on Viñales prior to these events are still instructive.
That discussion led Jarvis to explain their approach to finding a replacement for Viñales in the factory team, and what happens next at Petronas Yamaha. And finally, Jarvis gives his view of how the MSMA has come together to get through the pandemic, and how that affects MotoGP going forward.
Q: I didn't want to make this interview about Valentino Rossi, but it’s really hard not to start on about it just because of the importance of it. When did you find out he was going to retire?