“The whole paddock knew” Maverick Vinales’ seat was at-risk as new value debated

Aprilia made an offer to Fabio Quartararo, but will now be desperate to keep the red-hot Maverick Vinales

Maverick Vinales, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 14 April
Maverick Vinales, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 14 April

Maverick Vinales’ changing status on the MotoGP rider market has been considered after his COTA heroics.

Vinales arrived at last weekend’s Americas MotoGP after news broke that Aprilia tried, and failed, to recruit Fabio Quartararo.

Aprilia might have opted to get rid of Vinales, rather than their ‘team captain’ Aleix Espargaro to make space for Quartararo.

“The whole paddock knew, coming into this round, that he was the rider who might lose the factory Aprilia ride,” Neil Hodgson told TNT Sports about Vinales.

“So many good championship-potential winners wanted his seat.

“He’s one of the veterans now. He thought he was done!

“The pressure on Maverick has been so huge.

“It flips so quickly in this paddock.

“Now it’s his teammate who might lose his ride…”

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Vinales stunningly recovered from losing his pole position, and won the Americas MotoGP after falling back to 11th.

Not only is he the first MotoGP rider to win grands prix for three manufacturers, but he is arguably the most in-form rider on the grid after three rounds.

Vinales’ contract with Aprilia expires this season but his newfound brilliance means his manager could tout him around for the best deal.

Michael Laverty said to TNT Sports about the job of Vinales’ manager now: “You are rubbing your hands together. He is now the leading man in the Aprilia story.

“It was all about the captain. Maverick joined the team and was a second wheel to Aleix who developed the bike, won their first race, battled for their first title.

“But he never did it with the dominance of Maverick [last] weekend.

“The shift came after Qatar. He went to Portugal and he’s been on it.

“His stock value at the moment? Getting it pushed up.

“Obviously he has earned well over the years as a factory Yamaha rider.

“Now it’s getting the seat, never mind getting paid well for it.

“He’s one of the leading contenders.”

Vinales is in his 10th season as a MotoGP rider but hasn’t been strongly linked with a move away from Aprilia.

The Italian manufacturer, in the space of a fortnight, might have gone from considering whether to axe Vinales, to desperately working out how to keep him.

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