Maverick Viñales rejected the suggestion he had risked it all when selecting Michelin’s soft compound rear tyre for Sunday’s British Grand Prix, and instead pointed to rival Marc Marquez’s dramatic engine failure as the pivotal moment in his quest for victory.

The 22-year old had been strong throughout free practice around Silverstone, the scene of his first premier class win a year ago, and once again found himself in victory contention come Sunday as a pulsating five-rider fight for the podium ensued.

Viñales had used morning warm-up to come to a definitive decision on tyre choice, with his selection of the soft rear appearing a brave move when each of the other top ten qualifiers had opted for the harder option.

Yet when listening to the Catalan detail his afternoon soon after a fine ride to second place, 0.114s back of eventual winner Andrea Dovizioso, it was clear he felt tyre choice was not the deciding factor. Rather, it was Marquez’s engine failure, which occurred just in front of Viñales’ M1, that had the greater impact.

In his eyes, that moment allowed Valentino Rossi, leading at that time, and dark horse Dovizioso, who ultimately swept to victory, to steal a vital march, leaving Viñales with too much to do in the final five laps. 

“Well, I think it [the tyre selection] was not a gamble,” said Viñales, now 13 points behind Dovizioso in this absorbing title chase. “We were working really hard with the soft, doing all that we can trying to make the tyre life longer. Honestly, I felt really great on the bike. In the first lap I was just trying to save tyres until the end.

“It was quite hard when Dovi and Marc overtook me because I know my strongest point was at the end, the last ten laps, so that’s what I did. I just trying to save the tyre and I push at my 100 percent in the last five laps.

“Honestly, it was quite scary when Marc broke the engine because I didn’t know if it was oil or water, so I lose a lot compared Valentino and Dovizioso and this break in points. They go away a little bit.

“But we were able to catch them and trying to fight for the victory. So, I’m really happy that in the last lap I feel strong again as always. The bike was working well, so happy for that.

“This race was really tough because we were five riders doing the same lap times until the end, so it was very tough to be strong and to be consistent. Also it’s a demanding track. Honestly, it was good.

“A pity that I lose so much there when Marc broke the engine, but I’m really happy anyway. We come back stronger again. I know in Misano we did a good job and we can recover good points in Misano.”

Movistar Yamaha’s first double podium since Argentina follows a successful one-day test at Misano, where both Viñales and Rossi worked diligently on improving the M1’s electronics settings to preserve the rear tyre.

However, well respected French journalist Michel Turco later suggested that both men had found Yamaha’s 2018 chassis very much to their liking at the shakedown, and had the new frame fitted on their race bikes this weekend.

Cal Crutchlow had also intimated the Yamahas had something new that aided performance in the UK, but was unwilling to disclose exactly what that was. "I know what they have done because Maverick told me…but I’m not going to share it with you," he said on Sunday evening. "I will share it with Honda. They have definitely made a step."

Either way, neither Viñales nor Rossi revealed they were using anything new other than revised electronics settings. “Yes, we improve a lot in Misano, especially on the electronics,” said Viñales. “But still we have to improve because the competitors are really good, especially in the hot conditions. So, still we have a lot of work to do but we are getting closer every race.

“We were suffering in Austria so we were looking forward to improve a lot in Misano in the hot temperature, and we did it. We didn’t focus so much in trying to balance the bike or modify so much, because already we modify a lot and we didn’t find any advantage.

“So, we just tried to improve the electronics and improve the consistency of the tires. I think we did it this weekend. It was really good and nice to ride again fast

“I’m happy. I’m proud about the team. We did a really good job this weekend and we have to continue like that. We don’t have to forget that there is more tires than the hard and that can work as it happened today.”


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