Yamaha's Managing Director Lin Jarvis has spoken of his delight at the factory's capturing of Maverick Viñales for the 2017 and '18 MotoGP seasons and stated the 21-year old “was always our number one objective.”
Since reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo's move to Ducati at the close of 2016 was confirmed at the close of April, paddock speculation has largely centred around who would fill the departing Majorcan's boots.
Speaking at Mugello on the day Viñales' move to Yamaha at the close of the current season was announced, Jarvis explained how the marquee had subsequently entered into talks with both Suzuki's Viñales and Dani Pedrosa, with the primary focus always on securing the former.
“We're very happy with this choice, and I'm personally very happy with this choice,” said Jarvis at a special press conference, called to explain the move.
“Obviously when you lose the current world champion and a rider with the potential of Jorge, it's very difficult to find a replacement. Certainly you can't find an immediate replacement of somebody with the same experience, the same immediate performance potential, so we decided we had to obviously look for the very best possible replacement.
“Maverick was always our number one objective. We never changed that throughout the negotiation process.”
Jarvis continued to explain how the Movistar Yamaha squad had two choices when scouting out Jorge Lorenzo's replacement; in the factory's eyes, the best possible existing rider (Pedrosa), or the best with potential for the future (Viñales).
In spite of reports emerging in the Spanish media during the French Grand Prix that Pedrosa had already signed for the Movistar squad, Jarvis used the opportunity to refute claims the story was planted by Yamaha to urge Viñales to hasten his decision.
“We had two different directions we could have taken, and Dani was certainly the other most performing rider in our sights. So we entered into discussions also with Dani's management, but also with obviously Maverick's management.
“I said to you before, people that know the way that I work, I don't work by putting on strong-arm tactics. We didn't want to start any rumours. I have no idea where the rumour came from. I was assaulted when I arrived in the paddock on Sunday in Le Mans, also by many many people, who said, 'Have you read the news? Have you seen it?' What news? I had no idea.
“I turn my telephone off at night, because I don't want to be bothered, I want to sleep well, so I woke up in the morning to a whole number of SMS messages. I have no idea who was the source of that story. You probably know a lot better than me who the source of that story.”
Asked to pinpoint the one trait of Viñales' character that has impressed him the most, Jarvis added, “I like his desire. He has only one desire, which is to become world champion. He is not here to be a star, he is not here I don't think because of the money. He took a decision which I think was probably less favorable economically to join Yamaha.
“So basically, he has a burning desire to be a world champion, to be the very best in the sport that he has chosen to be in. For me, that is the most important thing of all, and let's hope that we can help him to achieve that goal.”
On whether he sees shades of Lorenzo's character and on-track attitude, Jarvis agreed there “are some similarities.”
“He's young, 21 years old. He's already been a world champion, so he knows what it takes to be a world champion. He won the world championship under pressure, I remember well the last race in Valencia. He was rookie of the year in each of the three categories he has raced in.
“He accelerated his move to MotoGP by staying only one year in Moto2, because he wanted to take the next step. The reason he joined Yamaha was also because he knows he could stay in Suzuki, he had a very good relationship with the team, the bike was developing well.
“But clearly that he recognised that our team and bike domination, because we had become world champions, was guaranteed to be on a higher level, at least at this moment. So he wants to take the risk, he wants the challenge. So in my opinion, he has shown his skill, he has attitude, he has youth, and he's willing to take the risk. So I'm hopeful, but nobody knows how the future will be, but I'm optimistic, I think he has what it takes to be a future world champion.”