Maverick Viñales Out At Yamaha With Immediate Effect

The rocky relationship between Maverick Viñales and Yamaha has come to an early end. The Japanese factory announced today that they would be releasing Viñales from his contract effective immediately. Viñales is now free to start work with Aprilia, in theory at least.

The de facto sacking of Viñales is the end of a precipitous decline in the relationship between the two parties. The Spaniard signed on for two more years with Yamaha (for 2021 and 2022) very early, agreeing a new deal with Yamaha in January 2020, when Viñales was being hunted by Ducati.

Viñales had a difficult 2020 season, finishing 6th in the championship, though first of the riders on a 2020 Yamaha, and with one victory and two other podiums. 2021 started off well, with victory at Qatar, but the relationship went downhill from there. At Barcelona, Yamaha decided to switch crew chiefs, bringing in Silvano Galbusera to replace Esteban Garcia. At the Sachsenring, Viñales finished last, and in the week between the German and Dutch MotoGP rounds, he decided to leave Yamaha a year early.

Viñales returned in relatively good shape after the summer break, but a series of problems during the restarted race, including starting from pit lane,  at the Styrian Grand Prix (Austria 1) left him frustrated. He took out his frustration by overrevving his M1 on the last four laps of the race, holding the bike in fifth and on the limiter on each of the Red Bull Ring's straights, an action which could easily have damaged the engine.

Yamaha took those actions extremely seriously, and personally. Japanese factories take a very dim view of intentionally damaging the bikes they build, and this seems to have been the last straw. At a meeting of the executive board in Japan on Thursday, the decision was taken to terminate the contract immediately. In effect, Viñales was sacked.

There are parallels with what happened between Johann Zarco and KTM in 2019. There, too, Zarco announced he wanted to get out of his contract a year early. And two races later, after Zarco had made some very critical remarks about the RC16, KTM announced they would be releasing him from his contract.

This feels different, however. At the core of the Yamaha-Viñales split is an absolute lack of trust and confidence, with neither party trusting the other. Viñales appears to have lost confidence in Yamaha much earlier this year, while Yamaha's frustration with Viñales has been growing since the beginning of the year. The Spaniard was brought in to Yamaha to replace Jorge Lorenzo and try to win the MotoGP title. Despite winning races, he has never looked like being a consistent title contender.

The move frees Viñales up to take the place of Lorenzo Savadori at Aprilia. Whether that happens remains to be seen: jumping straight off a Yamaha onto a very different motorcycle like the Aprilia RS-GP is no simple swap.

What teams and riders want to do when changing machines is to be able to take their time doing several laps at a time with no time pressure, to evaluate and understand a new machine. Three 45-minute sessions, one 30-minute session, and the pressure of qualifying and the race are a far from ideal environment for learning to understand a bike. However, if Viñales and Aprilia can approach it as getting an early jump on testing for 2022, that would reduce some of the pressure on him.

The sacking of Viñales leaves Yamaha with a hole to fill. The most obvious move would be to put Cal Crutchlow on the bike for the rest of the year, though that would disrupt the British rider's testing program, which is ostensibly why he was hired. Yamaha may face pressure to put Valentino Rossi on the bike for the final part of his final season in MotoGP. That would create a raft of complications, however, especially with sponsors of the Petronas Yamaha SRT team, who were paying to see their names on Rossi's bike. Furthermore, with Petronas and Eneos (who sponsor Yamaha) rival oil companies, that would make it almost impossible contractually. Petronas could then use the second seat to test out some of their riders from Moto2 and Moto3 on the bike.

That might be unusual, but we have seen some extraordinarily unusual things in MotoGP this year. So we can't rule anything out.

The Yamaha press release appears below:


Yamaha and Maverick Viñales have mutually decided to advance their separation and end their previous 2021 agreement with immediate effect.

Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 20th August 2021

After the Dutch GP (28 June 2021) it was announced that Yamaha and Maverick Viñales would bring their two-year contract for 2021-2022 to an early closure at the end of the current MotoGP season.

Following recent events at the Styrian GP and after deep consideration by both parties, the mutual decision was reached to separate with immediate effect.


“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.”


“Following our mutual decision in Assen to part ways a year early, it was also decided to commit to completing the current season with maximum effort from both sides. However, at the Styrian GP the race didn‘t turn out as we had hoped, and regrettably it did not end well.

“After thorough consideration both parties have agreed it would be best to end the partnership with immediate effect.

“I am deeply grateful to Yamaha for the great opportunity. I am also thankful for the support they gave me during these 4.5 years of racing and will look back with pride on the results we achieved together.

“I will always have great respect for Yamaha and wish them the very best.”


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Inevitable I guess. I'm not going to suggest that MV has health issues as I am not medically qualified to do so.

Like Fernandez in Moto2 being pushed into KTM MotoGp team, I feel that MV signing for Yamaha for 2021,2022 so early was also a push job as Ducati wanted him.

Yamaha is clearly more generous than I am. The statements, especially from MV show studied restraint. Perhaps immediate release (and final payments?) were the last carrot Y had to prevent a sorrid display. Something the Japanese factory would want to avoid.

I wonder how it worked out contractually, for instance if he voided his contract with his actions and words over the last little bit. He has been highly critical of Yamaha for much longer than this year alone. I wouldn't be surprised if they bent him over on the way out. As DE said - the Japanese factories just don't tolerate insubordinance or losing face at the hands of someone else.

As an aside it's no wonder that Petronas want out of GP. I appreciate that there are many moving parts for them to make the decision to leave, but Yamaha have been treating them like second class citizens all the way through. Taking Fabio and forcing Rossi down their throat. Morbidelli yanked away and now potentially Rossi going back. Marini was quoted as saying how romantic it would be to see him back at the factory for the remainder, and anything that seeps out of the VR46 camp is generally worth putting on a post-it note somewhere and seeing how things shake out. Nothing is coincidental from that clique.

I think Petronas might have been the biggest 'yes please' for going with Rossi and Rossi retiring would possibly remove any reasoning for continuing. Even though his golden days are long gone he's a wet dream for PR and sponsors.

As for Maverick...this is the best result for everybody involved and especially for Mav. Nobody does this just for money. A settlement was reached whichever way you look at it...even getting sacked is a settlement. I doubt it was quite that way but who knows. Now he can move forward and so can Yamaha. I guess if Mav doesn't race again this year he is free from testing restrictions ? Therefore, he could be on the Aprilia tomorrow. On to 2022.

Aprilia have a test booked at Missano 31/1st Sept .

GPone are reporting that Maverick willbe replacing  Dovi at that test .

As Aprilia is a " concessions " Team they can test as much as they want with their GP riders .

Dont know why I find those words so hilarious. Big companies generally move glacially so you have to screw up pretty bad for them to let you go ASAP. I hope Maverick can get some time to get his head on straight because if not this Aprilia thing is going to be a complete disaster.

But good riddance. I have a feeling that Viñales will find the atmosphere at Aprilia much less tolerant of his constant childish antics. If he manages to remain in the MotoGP paddock beyond 2022, I will be surprised. 

It certainly seems to me like Maverick has "cut off his hand to spite his arm."  Winning races and getting podiums and poll positions will be a lot touger on the Aprilia. 

a very tightly lawyer-controlled press release and it's clear he's HAD to mirror the Yamaha one preceding it. I get the feeling that Mav was going to be taken to the legal cleaners if he didn't do/say exactly what Iwata demanded. Aprilia might be on the edge of real progress, or the edge of disaster, it's up to them to ensure the correct management is prepared and a deal struck early to establish Mac's 'crew'. This is what happens what them pesky personalities get in the way, bring in the robot masters of F1 add a liberal sprinkle of zombie dust.

 I'm not a popcorn type of guy so I personally have ordered the 45 gallon (or 200 litre if you please) drum of M&Vs, sorry M&Ms...

Good to see earliest divorce settlement for all involved. Very interesting that Vinales could start immediately with Aprilia Testing! This is good. Obviously Yamaha don't see Aprilia as a threat. 

A realistic crystal ball for 2022 could put A.Espargaro not far from where he has been this year on points, which is quite good, and Vinales a bit ahead of that. Meaning no more expectation of titles, no "New Era Alien" Quartararo teammate (the only rider excelling on this Blue bike), and a more relaxed garage. Maverick came cheap! Black options were REALLY dim outside of Dovi, who would not sign. The bike is conventional, and likes to be overridden (whereas the Yamaha doesn't). Aleix is a bit similar to Mav in temperament. They will push each other. 

Two way street bad at Yamaha. Not pretty. The rider side of things, unacceptable of course, are foreground and much more clearly highlighted. Other side can be seen with attentive prying over time. Just a poor fit. But both sides have shit on their hands best just washed off ASAP.

Two way street good at Aprilia. Looks nice from over here, I think they were relatively fortunate. See crystal ball above.

Yamaha needs an outstanding rider signing. Hope they can. Toprak may get another look. Cal wanted to retire and Test, not race, so that is a factor re replacement. Not convinced Dixon is a sufficient candidate, if he does a big bike miracle transformation it would make me greatly happy, but he just looks like a convenient Aqua signed rider (who's Moto2 Team is dissolving). Morbidelli is a solid second at Factory Yamaha! Eager to see him on top kit. But Aqua sans Petronas money now has two A Spec customer bikes. Back to the old Herve days, which is a horrible thing for everyone. I saw Petronas hunkering down longer haul. The first season was FANTASTIC. They have put much bigger money into F1 for quite some time. Maybe losing Quarty, Franco dropped back on A Spec to smolder, and Vale in the rear group was too bitter a pill to re-up? Aqua will be missed. Curious what color shows up on the fairings (dear God not black). 

Looking fwd to Silverstone! Even more with this drama behind us.


Externalizer. Emotion must come out. Push harder forcefully when upset rather than settle down. Can do aggressive. No avoiding a fight. Not averse to blame other. Baseline super friendly and genuine. Gregarious. Very driven to succeed. Fire in the belly. May as well toss in Spanish culture/language. Lots of heart. 

I like both these guys as humans. (Don't mistake that for getting any passes or fan boy). Different too, Aleix is more consistent. BUT, I am remaining curious about Mav's consistency when in a completely different scenario. I have hope in human development based on experience.

These two will get along well, unless one slights the other on track. Then a short lived open public conflict, to which they will quickly recover. 

As mentioned in the Lin Jarvis interview things changed fast for Yamaha with regards to riders, 50% attrition. I can't help but feel that a few of the young guns lined up for 2022 are cursing their bad luck of signing a few weeks too early...Bastianini, Di Giantonio. Raul wanted to stay in Moto2...ok.

Very attractive bike for any rider. If the B-Spec is a 2021 and there's no big jump between 21 and 22 then look no further. Everybody is naturally 'totally committed' head over heels in love with their team, bike and brand but....hmmm it's a Yamaha. I know they've had a barren period until last year but since MV stopped winning everything and bar a few Suzuki champs (plus Stoner on a Ducati) it's Yamaha, it's Honda. Maybe Mav has shown everybody the way to go.

Inline 4's are for sure the way to go for a Rookie!

The 2021 A Spec will likely be down a bit on power via engine tune changes from both this 2021 Factory bike, and perhaps more if the new Blue bike has some development. 

Only one rider, who appears Alienesque, is getting great stuff out of this current Yamaha. But, it is a good bike to transition into the big bikes on! Conventional. Closer to Moto2 riding style. Less physical to ride. 

Agreed but Yamaha is a little deceiving maybe. Franco injured and on a 2 year old bike... C spec+ ? Rossi at the end and Mav we know. Mav still showing the pace but up and down and somewhere else. Hard to make any judgement on the bike with regards to other riders. I do think it is as Fabio says, the bike is great. 2020, such a bad bike so terrible it won most of the races. Ok ok lets go back further...remember that French guy on the 2016 bike in 2017/18 ? Pole positions, ran at the front many times. The sad Tech 3 days ? Dovi, Cal, Jonas ? It's not only a rookie friendly bike it's a competitive bike. 

The Yamaha customer bikes' competitiveness have offered a strange and unclear view in recent years. There was the strange case of the newer Factory bike being in the gutter, while the older one was not. Factory guys trying old frames. Quartararo saying when he first went Blue from Aqua that he requested his OLD bike instead of the new one! That was far from the norm. The norm over the years? Customer Yamahas are generally a good bit less competitive. Very little parts come over, even if handshake agreed that they will up the kit/support. "They got what they paid for." It has been madenning for riders, and fans. Horrible decision on Blue's part to just run two bikes. Herve was the consumate party line peacemaker, never making waves w Yamaha. And went Orange to get top kit, which is fantastic for bike development and the racing. 

I see customer Yamahas as having been competitive in spite of the Factory rather than because of them. And, generally not very competitive. Losing a Factory bike on the grid is sad! 

Herve said in an interview that even if he could afford factory Yamahas he wouldn't have been allowed them.

I appreciate, don't get me wrong, totally agree. I would like to see plus one factory supported bike not minus one. They aren't going to have a bike which will put a rider in a position to fight for the championship. Exceptional circumstances maybe, like 2020 with Franco...but

2012, Dovi, 6 podiums, 4th in the points. (Behind Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner)

2013, Cal, 4 podiums, 5th. (Marquez, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi)

2014, Pol, 6th. (Marquez, Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Dovi)

2015, Smith, 1 podium, 6th. (Lorenzo, Rossi, Marquez, Pedrosa, Iannone)

2016, Pol, 8th. (The usual suspects + Cal and Mav)

2017, Zarco, 3 podiums, 6th. (Marquez, Dovi, Mav, Pedrosa, Rossi)

2018, Zarco, 3 podiums, 6th. (Marquez, Dovi, Rossi, Mav, Rins)

2019, Fabio, 7 podiums, 5th. (Marquez, Dovi, Mav, Rins)

2020, Franco, 5 podiums including 3 wins and 2nd. (Mir)

The customer Yamaha has finished as top independent (Is that what they call it?) in all of those years except 2016, Cal LCR Honda + 6 points.

Pramac 2021...yup it's looking very different and very possibly these same bikes will show the same performance next year with a relative change compared to the factory boys...the direction of that change is not certain as you mentioned but in general you'd expect a drop.

Sure factory bikes are the target for riders and it's better for us all's a Yamaha and for Bastianini or DiGi...hmmm. It's known as a rider friendly bike but things do change. It's currently smashing the points table this year. Rider has a huge amount to do with that and it's Fabio, it's not it Bastianini ?


Scenarios of frying pans and fires come to mind... MV12 walks away from possibly the easiest to ride of all the MotoGP bikes (that is comfortably leading this year's championship table) towards a bike that's yet to score its first podium.... hardly a no-brainer is it? Given his newly gained free-agency there are people shouting for him to get on the RS-GP immediately - personally I think that would be folly... In racing terms his head is a total mess, he doesn't currently have the mental fortitude to cope with setbacks (witness the unfortunate meltdown in Styria following a stall, pitlane start and long lap penalty - plus machine issues or were they all in his helmet?). Surely he'd be far better off just getting away from the pressure of the paddock and spending some down time with his young family, and hopefully surrounding himself with people who will do him some good and improve his outlook. His father's influence is said to be toxic so MV will have to confront the malignant elements within his inner circle.

Come next season and things aren't going to plan, what happens - Will Aprilia indulge him and play musical chairs with crew chiefs again or will they treat him like they did Sam Lowes and Scott Redding? 

According to Neil Spaulding, Quartararo's bike during his first season at Tech 3 was equipped with the frame from Lorenzo's final season at Yamaha or the latest version of the 2016 frame. The 2016 frame was an iteration of the frame Lorenzo's bike had during his championship run in 2015, which was considered the perfect Lorenzo frame. The 2016/2017 (not sure) frame had been tried by the factory guys, Rossi and Vinales, but passed on. After Quartararo began getting podium results, the frame on Quartararo's bike mysteriously ended up back in the factory Yamaha pitbox for another try.

And as far as Yamaha screwing over Morbidelli, my understanding from Niki Kovac's youtube video with Forcada and the Petronas guys, Morbidelli was allowed to choose whether he wanted to stick with his 2019 bike or an updated version for 2021. Morbidelli, in consultation with Forcada, had to make the decision early in the 2020 season due to logistics and covid forced delays. And the factory guys were in trouble during that time, which helped condition Morbidelli's choice. The video is easily found on Niki Kovac's channel and was conducted in English for anyone that is interested. 

I am sure there is more to the stories that I am unaware of due to the machinations going on behind the scenes. And I cannot even say if what I just wrote is factual or not (what other people said was true). Or if I am even recalling the past accurately. Memory isn't infallible. 

GPONE are reporting that Vinales will be testing on the Aprilia early September with the potential to burn through their 6 available wildcards for the rest of the year if agreed upon.