Stay at Suzuki or take over from reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo at Yamaha?
Maverick Vinales admits it's the most difficult decision of his career and, as of Thursday at Le Mans, he's yet to make a final decision.
The 21-year-old, currently sixth in the world championship with a best race finish of fourth, had admitted the Yamaha one-two last time at Jerez 'made him think'. But just one day later he was a close third fastest on the GSX-RR in the post-race test.
“Sure when you need to make a decision you consider [the Yamaha one-two at Jerez], but then after in the test we worked perfectly, were in the front places all the time and second on pace,” said Vinales, speaking in the pits at Le Mans.
“Also this makes me think a lot; that if we can take everything from the test to the race weekend we can be there. I don't know, it's so difficult. Honestly I thought it would be easier to say 'here or here'. But one time I think here and the next day there. It is like this all the time.
“It is so difficult because I have two teams that can be on the top. I have one team [Suzuki] that gave me the trust when I was in Moto2 and still now I can be their reference. Then I have another team [Yamaha] that is already is there, winning. It's really difficult to make the decision.”
Although Vinales confirmed offers have been received from both manufacturers, and claimed there is no deadline by which to decide, he wants to sort it out as soon as he can. “Also for my team it's important to know because now they are a little bit nervous to understand.”
Despite rumours that Vinales may have felt Yamaha's financial offer was too low, the Spaniard made clear the main factor is the ability to win. The difficultly is trying to predict the MotoGP balance of power in the future.
“The important thing is the result. I need to make my objective because I came here to MotoGP to win,” he said. “Suzuki in one year made an incredible step. I mean if we have a perfect weekend we can fight for a podium. This also makes me think a lot. I also trust a lot Davide [Brivio, Suzuki team manager]. It makes me think.”
So would a first podium convince him to stay?
“I would consider, but what I follow is not the result now. What I will follow is the result later,” Vinales explained. “Because already if I saw the results [now] everybody knows where I need to go - first and second always the Yamaha. But also I saw the results that Suzuki made, Aleix being really good last race and normally we were one step in front of Aleix all season. It means if we have a perfect weekend we can do an incredible result.
“So if I check the [results] list I see Yamaha first and second, but then I start to think with my head - what I feel and what I need - and start to change everything. It's difficult to say 'here or here'. At the moment I'm in-between. Because one day I feel 'ok, now I go there' then I start to think 'but if I go there maybe I have this...'
“I know that every day I'm more convinced to go in one side, but still not enough.”
“I cannot say! But one day I wake up, take a piece of paper and start to write; 'okay, here I have this, this and this'. Then another day wake up and think 'here I have this, this and this'. I try to make the pros and cons from each side.”
Helping Vinales make the decision, which he confirmed is the most difficult of his career, are those close to him. However: “I always listen to all the people close to me but even as a kid I was always following my decisions. At the moment it's been quite good.
“At the end if I choose one team or another it is only for two years. And then if I can demonstrate I can be the best, or being the best, I can have a choice. I mean it's really important, but it's more important how I fit into the team and how I can make my objectives.”
Despite the mental turmoil, Vinales insists it won't affect him on track tomorrow: “I think at home [about all this], but here I don't even think. It's like another world.”
By Peter McLaren