And so it goes on. Yamaha’s traction issues showed few signs of dissipating at a roasting hot Aragon, where Maverick Viñales was at a loss to explain the behaviour of his M1 as he struggled to the tenth fastest time.

The 23-year old left this very track three weeks ago with a spring in his step as a change in bike balance gave him greater confidence when braking. With track temperatures in FP2 similar, that improved feel had dispersed. And with it, his confidence.

Both Viñales and team-mate Valentino Rossi were perplexed by their race performances at Misano, where the suffered significantly with a lack of rear grip on corner entry – and all this less than 24 hours after they were fast in FP4 – in similar temperatures.

Their struggles showed no sign of letting up at Aragon. “We struggled so much,” said Viñales after a lacklustre FP2, 1.1s off the quickest pace of the day.

“The feeling after the test was so good and so confident that today when I went on the track it was that feeling when I had zero grip on the tyres. So honestly it was difficult for me because I was used to doing one line during all of the test and now it’s impossible. I needed to change a little bit the riding style.

“For me it’s more the deceleration than the acceleration. I slide so much on the rear straight and with banking so I cannot push. I’m really slow going into the corner. That’s the problem. Still we have time to work and we have to keep focussed.

“It’s pretty much the same feeling as the race [at Misano]. I cannot stop the bike and I don’t turn. It’s impossible to do the lap time. We must understand why because we didn’t know why. Then we have to work hard. I mean this is a good track for us.

“Last year we’ve been in the front so we need keep working and trying to give the best. The problem is there is zero grip from the tyres, but the tyres are the same one from the test and at the test I had grip. We need to figure out what’s going on.”

His confusion was compounded by Michelin’s tyre allocation: the French firm brought the same tyres to the test here three weeks ago, meaning the rubber is not at fault.

“I think the tyres are the same,” opined Viñales. “I think they are the same, completely the same for us. It’s pretty strange for us that on Saturday at Misano the bike was working quite good. Not many issues, but in the race and here we have the same problem. We have really low grip in the deceleration side. Let’s see if we can improve it, sure.”

Could the engine braking of the Yamaha M1 be at fault if Viñales and Rossi are suffering so significantly on corner entry? The Catalan thinks so. “For me it looks like when we have grip the engine braking doesn’t matter so much,” he said.

“When there is no grip the engine braking is really important. I don’t think we’re on the correct way – still. That’s why I think in the test we were OK, because in the deceleration side the tyre had a lot of grip.

“Also at Misano on Friday and Saturday. But in the race there was less grip and we struggle much more. Still we didn’t solve the problems with the electronics when we had low grip on the rear.


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