Suzuki's Davide Brivio has confirmed the factory is waiting on Maverick Viñales to decide on his plans for 2017 before making other decisions regarding riders, and feels it is important that the 21-year old sees the progress the factory is making.
In the wake of Jorge Lorenzo's signing for Ducati, Viñales is believed to be the next major domino to fall in place. Yamaha's interest in the Catalan has been well publicised but Viñales wouldn't be drawn on his future at Austin, stating, “it's always good when I have these things in my head. I've always worked really well when I've been under pressure because I feel much more motivated.”
Speaking in Texas, Brivio stated keeping Viñales in Suzuki's colours was a firm priority of the factory. Asked whether he knew when the Catalan starlet's future would be decided, he replied, “This you have to ask Maverick.
“We're waiting for him to decide to tell us what he wants to do. Of course our priority is to keep him. The whole Suzuki factory is working, wishing and hoping that he stays.”
Rumours mounted in Austin that Viñales was taking Suzuki's offer to stay in 2017 very seriously, amid reports that he had changed manager from Aki Ajo to Paco Sanchez, a man who looked after Pol Espargaro's affairs in the past.
At the beginning of 2016, Viñales set a target of finishing regularly inside the top six, a goal based on early performances, is well within his reach. It is this competitiveness that Brivio hopes will convince him to stay.
“More than a podium it's important that Maverick understands that the bike is good and competitive, in general the feeling and how the bike behaves compared to the other bikes, this is what we're doing.
“I think these three races, one reason or the other, we're still missing the top results but I think our bike is making quick steps. Then maybe we have to make the tyre work better; small things we have to adjust to be more competitive, and be constantly at the top.”
Viñales scored his best result in MotoGP to date in Texas, his strong fourth position bettering his previous best by two places. Furthermore, team-mate Aleix Espargaro's fifth was proof that Suzuki's riders can finish “very close to the top group…when the bike is OK.”
“We are really pleased to see this,” continued Brivio. “We know we had a little bit of luck. What is more important is that here we struggle a little bit with the rear grip and drop down but we can understand in these first three races that when we are OK, when the bike is OK, the tyres are OK we can stay very close to the top group.
“This is now the next target, the next mission, to fix as much as we can and to be more constant. Then we know we have the potential with the bike and the riders to stay closer to the top group. From now on we have to try and come closer and closer.
“Aleix made a huge step compared to the first two races. We struggle a little bit in the winter. Suddenly he switched to the 2015 chassis again and we used Qatar basically as a kind of a test. Argentina was a strange weekend.
“In Austin, the first weekend that was clear and normal, he made a huge step so I want to think that we start from here. Now we arrive in an important part of the championship, at European tracks; Jerez, Le Mans, Mugello, now we look forward.”
On Espargaro's future, Brivio added the Spaniard had “briefly” spoken to the factory, “because everyone is talking.
“As we said, we are working on Maverick's side. Once he has decided – good or bad – we will also make a strategy for other riders.”
Brivio also confirmed that Suzuki is planning to increase its presence on the MotoGP grid to three bikes in 2017, something the factory is currently discussing with MotoGP organisers Dorna.
“Somebody is asking and also we are talking to Dorna. They wish to see more Suzukis at the track. Our management in the Suzuki company wish to have more bikes on the track.
“We have no experience in Satellite teams, how to manage them, how to do it, the sort of organisation we need. This is an internal discussion that is going on. We will see but let's say it's clear that everyone would like to do it. Now we have to see if it's practical and we can do it.”