Instead, that honour went to team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who finally celebrated a first grand prix win in any class during his 284th appearance, in Argentina last Sunday.

"Aleix is working fantastic, he showed the bike has the potential to win - he won!" smiled Vinales, who claimed his and the Suzuki GSX-RR's first MotoGP win as a team-mate to Espargaro back in 2016.

"I'm honestly very happy because I think one victory will change a lot the image of the team.

"This is the most important, because sometimes also the image, your presence in the media, is important and I think if the team grows up everything will be better.

"I thought Aleix could win [after qualifying] because he had something extra over the rest. So I really was wishing that Aleix could win because it's very important for the team and sponsors. We are very happy."

 

'We have the base and can only go up'

Vinales also recorded a new RS-GP personal best on Sunday courtesy of a more modest seventh place, 6.5s behind Espargaro.

"I battled so hard that I finished the tyres very soon. I was battling with the Ducatis, I passed them, they overtook me again, and I lost at least 3-4 seconds battling with them," said Vinales, who held fifth position until narrowly losing out to both Francesco Bagnaia and KTM's Brad Binder.

"But I cannot complain. I improved by almost 20-seconds compared to [Qatar] and the feeling is there.

"This race was one of the most important for us because we needed to confirm the setting change we did in Mandalika was correct.

"Here we confirmed it was correct. I felt much better with the bike from the first lap. Still there is work to do, a lot of things still to learn and understand but the most important thing is we have the base and can only go up.

"Now we have a lot of data to understand and my team-mate won. We couldn’t ask for more than this [in Argentina]."

Vinales will now take that promising base setting straight to this weekend's Americas MotoGP in Austin, Texas.

"I love Austin, it's one of my favourite tracks. I've always been super fast in this track. But we will keep the same mentality. We need to go there, learn and put more [work] on the base and keep building," he said.

"We know the championship is very long. We don’t need to hurry. We have time to learn and work.

"Still I need to get confident with the bike. I gave myself until Jerez [round 5] to be at the maximum with the bike and team."

Vinales, who finished second to Marc Marquez at COTA in 2018, missed last October's race after the tragic death of his cousin Dean Berta Vinales.

Although Aprilia has now joined the other five MotoGP manufacturers in achieving a race win, they remain the only factory with access to technical concessions, having so far accumulated four of the maximum six 'podium points'.