On a day that saw his future plans discussed, debated and questioned more than any events that happened on track, Maverick Viñales voiced his frustrations at Suzuki being unable to replicate its pace in a recent test at Jerez.
It is believed Viñales was surprised to learn that Spanish newspaper El Pais
had reported that Dani Pedrosa had signed with Movistar Yamaha for 2017 – a seat over which he locked in discussions. Indeed subsequent and brief comments to the Spanish press said as much.
“If you're telling me that Dani has signed then they [Yamaha] would have to tell me something, wouldn't they?” he pondered after qualifying in Le Mans. “On Monday I'll think clearly and try to make a definitive decision.”
His feelings with Suzuki's GSX-RR did little to lift his mood. A positive morning session wasn't built upon, and Viñales qualified eighth, more than nine tenths of a second slower than pole-sitter Jorge Lorenzo.
It was his and Suzuki's speed in a post-race test at Jerez, where he wasn't outside the top three throughout the day, that raised hopes, and Viñales feels his qualifying position in France was not acceptable.
“This morning was quite OK. I was feeling good and the bike was having quite good grip going into the corners. Then I could make the corner really fast and the lap time was coming. But this afternoon the rear was sliding a lot. Much of the time I went to the brake and the rear started to slide and it was a nightmare to go into the corners.
“Sure we need to improve because we cannot be comfortable. After the test in Jerez we were all of the time between first, second and third, on the pace and in the top. Then we come here and we are nine tenths behind Jorge. We cannot permit this and we need to work hard.”
Viñales had already spoken of continued problems with the bike, and rear grip on corner entry. Considering he has complained of this issue for more than a year the 21-year old said that made it all the more frustrating.
“For me it's always the same problem. I always said – even last year – that we need to improve the rear because in sector one I don't need to use the rear. I only use the front and I'm there in fourth, in the ideal partial times.
“The problem is when I need to use the rear to turn. The bike doesn't turn and starts to slide. It's one year that I've said the same and still I have a problem. After the test in Jerez I was feeling really confident and good on the bike. You come here and are nine tenths away. We cannot permit this.
“We're going to work hard tonight and we're going to find something for tomorrow.”