Yamaha has attempted to limit the controversy that surrounds factory rider Maverick Viñales after the Spaniard’s crew chief Ramon Forcada gave a revealing interview to Spanish media outlet Movistar TV that was aired this morning.

Journalists were prohibited from asking the 23-year old about Forcada and their worsening relationship by Movistar Yamaha’s press officer after an eventful morning of action underlined the fault-lines in the relationship between the pair.

On Friday Viñales confirmed that he and Forcada would part ways at the close of 2018, with Esteban Garcia, his old crew chief from Moto3, moving across from KTM’s factory squad to take the Spaniard’s place in the Movistar box.

But tensions were already escalating ahead of qualifying day. Having missed out on a top ten spot in the dying moments of FP3 on Saturday morning through an apparent strategy error, Viñales could be seen sarcastically applauding when returning to the Movistar garage.

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The day before Forcada had done an interview for Movistar TV, in which he frankly stated that his current rider did not posses the courtesy to inform him of his decision to end their professional relationship. The veteran technician even went as far to cast doubts on whether he would complete the season with the 2013 Moto3 world champion.

“Yamaha told me about it a few days ago,” Forcada told Movistar TV in an interview that was broadcast on Saturday morning. “But the rider hasn’t said anything – not a single word. They told me there is an alternative [to working with Maverick] and we’re looking to find a Yamaha solution.

“It seems that, while nothing is finalised, I will continue with them in a satellite team [the new SIC Yamaha team]. But we don’t know what the conditions are, the spec of bike, the contract… It’s a new team.”

When pressed on the issues that exist between Forcada and his rider, the technician responded, “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. From his side there hasn’t been any words. There hasn’t been a complaint – not even a gesture.

“There has been no problem, but how does it normally work? For us, for all the mechanics, the team has functioned as normal. I’ve been here eleven years and we haven’t changed anything. But every rider has his needs, his wishes.”

And then came the doubt regarding the remainder of 2018: “We’re working to give Maverick the best bike possible until the last race that I’m with him… and I’m not sure when that will be. As things stand, it’ll continue as it is.”

While questions to Viñales were limited to today's on-track action, he responded to some probing on the issue. On whether the atmosphere was tense in his garage, the Catalan said, “No. In the end, I’m professional. I leave it all to one side and try to do my best.

“We have to try and get the best from the bike and I think that today and this weekend we haven’t performed to our one hundred percent. We’ll have to work hard tonight and try a different setting tomorrow that can help me.”

On why he appeared extremely agitated at the close of FP3, Viñales responded, “I wasn’t even angry. I’ve been through Q1 several times this year, something that didn’t happen so much last year. We’ll see everything in the race and I hope to be competitive until the end.”

So why was he applauding when he entered the Movistar garage? His answer hinted that he was upset at not following his own convictions. He had wanted to use two soft rear tyres at the close of FP3. Forcada had insisted on using only one. In the end it backfired, with Viñales last flying lap not good enough for the top ten. In his eyes, another soft rear tyre would have been enough to achieve an automatic place in Q2.

“I was applauding myself for not doing what my head said,” Viñales said. “Nothing more.”

 

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