Maverick Viñales And Yamaha Are Through

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Photo: Mirco Lazzari gp (Getty Images)

The weird saga between Maverick Viñales and the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team has ended, as both parties announced Friday that they would not race together for the remainder of the 2021 campaign. This comes after Viñales was suspended from last weekend’s race at the Red Bull Ring. The team had also decided to suspend him for the upcoming British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Next season the Spanish rider will compete for Aprilia, a team that’s evidently been fazed by none of this. Just days after the news came out that Viñales had tried to grenade his Yamaha out of frustration, the Italian outfit confirmed the rider’s long-rumored signing for 2022.

In case you missed what exactly Viñales did at the end of his last race that caused the suspension, here’s a handy little clip that’ll tell you everything you need to know:

Today, both Viñales and Monster Energy Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis released statements that basically echo each other, abbreviating the Styrian Grand Prix saga to say that the race “didn’t go well” — a rather soft way of putting things — and at this point it’s better to end the relationship now than later considering nobody’s heart is in it anymore.

Here’s what Jarvis had to say:

“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.”

And here’s Viñales’ statement:

“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.”

It seems as though the mystery replacement rider “yet to be determined” will be British veteran Cal Crutchlow. Crutchlow has spent most of 2021 as a test rider for Yamaha, and replaced the injured Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas Yamaha satellite squad for the previous two races. Now it seems he’ll join the top Yamaha crew in Viñales’ absence based on a tweet the team issued today, though whether that’s for a few races or the entire rest of the calendar remains to be seen.

This whole episode has been extraordinarily strange. Clearly, things hadn’t been peachy between Viñales and Yamaha before the Styrian GP — or else the rider wouldn’t have announced an intention to part ways with the team a year before his contract was due to expire. But I don’t think anyone could’ve expected it’d play out quite like this.

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