Maverick Vinales wants to decide his MotoGP future as soon as possible, and admits the result of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix 'makes him think'.
Vinales is caught in a tug-of-love between staying at Suzuki and taking over Jorge Lorenzo's factory Yamaha seat for 2017.
“Really I want to clear fast now, because Lorenzo made a decision and now I think it is important to take [my decision for next year] and concentrate to race,” Vinales said.
The 21-year-old Spaniard was speaking after claiming sixth place at Jerez, just behind team-mate Aleix Espargaro, in a race that saw Yamaha claim a one-two finish with Valentino Rossi and Lorenzo.
Will the result influence his decision?
“For sure. For sure it makes me think, no? Because when you see [Yamaha] first-second and me and Aleix are fifth and sixth, you think a little bit. But I trust Suzuki and I trust that still they can show me the results.”
Rumours at Jerez suggest Yamaha's initial offer to Vinales was seen as too low and that Suzuki, thought to have some kind of 'option' with Vinales, have offered better financial terms. Negotiations are further complicated by a possible change of manager by Vinales.
Nevertheless, most believe Vinales will ultimately sign for Yamaha, given his comments about results being the most important factor, plus an eagerness to learn from riding alongside nine-time champion Rossi.
Yamaha have won two of the four races this season, with one win each for Rossi and Lorenzo. Title leader Marc Marquez has won the other two races, but is currently the only rider capable of putting the RC213V at the front.
Should Vinales leave, the departing factory Ducati rider - either Andrea Iannone or Andrea Dovizioso - is tipped to head the list of possible replacements.
If Vinales stays, Dani Pedrosa is a potential 'Plan B' to ride alongside Rossi at Yamaha. Alex Rins is currently thought unlikely to go straight from Moto2 to the factory Yamaha team, leaving Tech 3 Yamaha as his most likely choice - although Honda are also believed to be interested in him.
Jerez marked the first time that Espargaro has beaten Vinales this season, excluding Argentina, where Vinales fell from a podium place.
“We were struggling a lot with the set-up all weekend,” Vinales said. “Also Aleix was really strong here last year, seventh with a bike that was slower than now. So this track is good for him. But we were constant, close [to him] and on the last lap I didn't push; the front felt on the limit all the time and I didn't want to crash. Sixth I think is a good position.
“Anyway I think we didn't find a good set-up and this bike can do more, so tomorrow [at the test] we have a lot of work to do.
“Now we are going to some really good tracks for me like Le Mans, Mugello and Montmelo. So we need to work hard and concentrate, because although it looks far, we were eight seconds from the podium.
“The [stiffer rear tyre construction] has changed a lot. I was behind Dovizioso. I know how he rides and he was struggling so much on the rear. We are struggling also. It looks like now the Yamaha has a little bit more than Honda. So we need to make a choice, to make a bike that turns better or look for more grip, so we can have the opportunity to at least fight.”
Vinales claimed Suzuki's best result since it's 2015 MotoGP return with fourth place at the previous Austin round.
By Peter McLaren