Maverick Viñales has stressed the need for Yamaha to learn from the mistakes of 2017 in the coming months, as he struggled to a disappointing ninth place finish in the rain at Sepang, those issues with rear traction reappearing and stunting his recent gains in the wet.

The 22-year old admitted he was “very tense” and “suffering” throughout Sunday afternoon after a moment on the first lap indicated rear grip was next to nothing in a race that saw satellite contender Johann Zarco once again outperform his factory colleagues.

Despite persistent struggles in such conditions through 2017, the issues came as a surprise to the young Catalan; a set-up shift during a wet warm-up at Phillip Island had filled him with hope while the wet afternoon session on Friday showed him to have podium potential.

But the race-day grip was, by all accounts, much worse, ensuring the factory Yamaha’s struggles continued. With team-mate Valentino Rossi seventh, labelling the M1 “very dangerous” and “impossible to ride” in the wet, Viñales called on the factory to focus all of its efforts on understanding and improving the situation over a crucial preseason of development.

“Well, actually, [it was] a different feeling than in FP2,” said Viñales, resigned after his world championship hopes were mathematically extinguished for good. “In FP2, I felt really good on the bike, good grip, good drive from the back.

“In the race, a totally different feeling. I started well. I wanted to push from the beginning at 100%. Corner one, I felt quite good, entering corner two, OK, but as soon as I touched the gas, I felt, ‘Ooof’. It's a different feeling. Already making like little slides to make little high-sides around all the track, so I knew, OK, suffering all the race.

“I suffered all the race. I could only do one good lap as I did in FP2, you know, relaxed, riding. I was all the time very tense on the bike because the rear was sliding all the time.

“But anyway, somehow and in some conditions, we felt good in the rain, so we have data to work with and data to better understand the tyres. On the track the conditions were worse than FP2, so also this can affect a little bit the tyres.

“[The] Championship is close to being over, so we have to relax a little bit, think, and learn from 2017. [It’s] Going to be very important to not make the same mistakes again.”

Podium man Zarco took a brilliant third, his second podium of a stellar rookie campaign, using Michelin’s soft wet rear compound, while Viñales and Rossi raced the medium. Did the Catalan ever consider following Zarco’s lead?

“Looking at FP2, no, because in FP2 [with the medium] I felt great. I think from the rhythm, I was the third fastest, so I said, you have to wait for halfway, finally I can attack in the end. But looking at Zarco and looking at some other riders, maybe the soft was an option. You didn't know that [before the race].

“Maybe if the grip was good and we used the soft, then we destroy the soft. So our choice was the hard, as in FP2, but this time it was not working, so we have to recover the information.”

It was another encounter which saw Yamaha make one step forward (warm up at Phillip Island) before taking another back, any kind of recent momentum soon dissolved in the Malaysian murk.

Asked just how trying it was to see any kind of progress stunted, a feature that has been a regular in the second half of a frustrating campaign, Viñales shrugged it off, focusing on the positives of the weekend, such as an improved feeling in a dry morning warm-up.

“Well actually this morning I was very happy and confident, because we found a better setup, and we recovered the feeling I had in the preseason, because I felt really good with the front, braking late and going into the corners.

“So actually after the warm up I said, ‘If it's dry, I can do an incredible race,’ because with 20 laps [on the] tyres I was able to do 2m 0s. So I was very happy and enthusiastic. Then when I saw the rain, I said, "OK, it's rain, you did fourth in FP2, now we push even more." I tried, and already on the sighting lap I was sliding everywhere so I felt, ‘No way’.

“But anyway, it's going to be very important to understand this year, check it very well, all the details, all the changes we did, everything. When we did the mistakes, and what we did good, because we don't have to forget the first half of the season was unbelievable, was really good. So also we have to count that in all the year, not only take the negative points as in the last races.”

Could he draw any positives from the race? “Well, the positive was in FP2,” he said. “Today was very bad. Very bad race. I was 20th, I don't know, I didn't even check the position in the beginning, because I think I was last! Totally different feeling to FP2. So I don't even want to think on the race, I think in FP2, the feeling we had was good, and [I was] riding OK.”


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