Maverick Viñales was delighted to return to the MotoGP podium at the Circuit of the Americas after an absence of four races, and believes he and his Movistar Yamaha squad have finally understood what is needed to get the most from the 2018 M1.

A performance that challenged eventual race winner Marc Marquez may not have materialised, but Viñales secured a comfortable second place ahead of Andrea Iannone - his best result since the British Grand Prix last August - and was particularly pleased with the progress with set-up since Argentina.

With this new, revised setting, the 23-year old feels he can now attack the track aggressively, in a similar style to the one which saw him claim three victories from the first five races last year. And still there is some margin to improve.

“We are coming,” beamed Viñales after placing second, his first podium since last October's Australian Grand Prix. “Honestly, this weekend we enjoy it so much. Even if still we didn’t feel we are at the maximum level we can be, we feel quite strong. We know we improve quite good things from Argentina and we have a way to go to improve even more.

“We start to understand how to go fast on this 2018 Yamaha bike. But I’m actually really happy. Today I think was the maximum we could do. I’m happy. I can’t wait to be in Jerez. I think it’s a track that fits quite well for our bike and we’re going to try the best. Now it’s time to improve, to fix some of the problems we have on the bike and try to make another step.

“As I said in Argentina, we needed much more power on the beginning. Try to ride a little bit more aggressive, close to what I ride like last year. More aggressive, pushing more the bike. It’s something I couldn’t do during all the pre-season, be a little bit more like my own style.

“But seems now to getting better and better, getting more my style. With this new bike seems to work. We have to keep it like that. We know as I said we can improve still quite a lot. It’s important to see in Europe how the bike works. I’m actually really happy. Especially the last laps of the race it’s been great. We need to keep focusing like that.”

While Viñales’ late race pace has rivaled the leaders in each of the season’s opening three races, his speed in the opening laps has been an area in need of improvement. Here, he had no answer for Marquez early on, dropping five seconds behind his fellow Catalan by lap ten.

“Just a little [problem] the first laps," he said. "Also was the first time it was quite hot on the track, so maybe the setup was not the best. But actually I feel happy because we improve some areas that in Argentina I was missing quite a lot. Still there is room to improve. Can’t wait to be in Jerez. Start the weekend and try to be stronger than here.”

So what has been the fundamental change from preseason to now? “The motorcycle it’s one piece,” he said. “If it’s missing something then the rider cannot push as he wants. The small changes we did give me the chance to push a little bit more the bike, to feel more confidence with all the bike.

“To improve the bike lap by lap, trying to understand better. But we did a big improvement on the electronic. We have to continue, as I said. Looks like my season is going to start when I have two days full test where I can push at the maximum and we can try really big different things.

“On the weekend it’s so difficult to try things, and more if you have wet, dry. But anyway, I’m really happy. The team is working well. I know we are getting back stronger and stronger. Still there is a lot of room to improve. As I said, I can’t wait to be in Jerez to reconfirm that we did a step and keep working like that.”

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