Maverick Vinales was one of the fastest riders on track during the second half of Sunday's season-opening Qatar MotoGP.

Unfortunately for the Movistar Yamaha rider he had to fight back from 15th in the early stages and could only cross the line in sixth.

Afterwards, Vinales was a mixture of 'pissed off' and 'very happy' as he climbed from his M1.

The disappointment was that it took so long to get up to speed, but there was also joy and no doubt relief that - after 'losing three months' with the wrong set-up - he was back to the Maverick of old at the end of the race.

"Honestly, I was a bit pissed off because if my '55s came much earlier I could maybe have been fighting for the podium," Vinales said.

"So for sure I was pissed off, but in the same way I was very happy because the team never gave up and finally, with patience, we found a really good set-up. Something I like.

"I felt that in the last laps it was the Maverick as always. Pushing, getting faster and faster through all the race."

The reason the Spaniard struggled at the start was also a cause for future optimism: The set-up breakthrough on Saturday provided so much more rear grip that the electronics should have been recalibrated to avoid limiting the power unnecessarily, but there simply hadn’t been time.

"It looked like the set-up of the bike was for the last ten laps of the race, but I think it was more about the power and the electronics than the setup," he explained. "I felt really good on the brakes, so it means that there was not enough power on the bike to try to attack the other riders.

"It was so difficult to pass Brad and then Aleix and also Jack. I lost so much time behind Jack because I could not attack him. Not enough power on the bike in acceleration.

"But this is because we didn't focus on the electronics for the race, we focussed to find the setup - and [the new set-up] actually it works. We took the opposite direction to the test, we went harder in the front, different stiffness on the rear.

"It's something I really like and something I asked many times to do. Finally we did it here and it's a good way."

Last year's Qatar winner added: "For me, looking back, it's like I lost three months because now the bike is totally different from the test. The [2016-base] chassis is the same, but the setup is totally different. In the other direction.

"Still I need more confidence with it, but the strongest point of the bike from last year came back again, which is the fast corners, and I'm quite happy."

The increased rear grip had allowed Vinales to attack the corners once again, without having to overwork the tyre on the exit.

"It's much better entering the corners and the bike is less shaking. It's something I like; the bike more stable and I can attack a little bit more the apex of the corners. A little more corner speed but also with the brakes.

"Also I didn't make problems in the acceleration [area] because I 'win' in the middle of the corner. It's something I demand many, many times to do. But we did it here on the race weekend.

"I was feeling good on the bike and the motivation comes up. Yesterday was so difficult for me, to stay motivated and focused. Let's see at the next race. I'm confident that now the race pace is there. Now we have to improve other areas."

Several times during winter testing Vinales looked to rediscover the speed that carried him to three wins in the opening five rounds of last year, only to struggle once again.

But he insists this latest set-up is the real deal, rather than another false dawn.

"[Before] we only fixed [the problem] for a few laps with new tyres, no fuel and crazy laps. But for the rhythm I've never felt like FP4 and the race. What I need now are laps, laps, laps and recover again the feeling I had last year."

Team-mate Valentino Rossi finished third in Sunday's race.


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