Having languished in 15th place and 'unable to ride' during Saturday morning's FP3 at the Spanish MotoGP, Maverick Vinales and the Monster Yamaha team had little choice but to make big changes for final practice.

While Vinales wasn't able to challenge the heroics of the satellite Petronas Yamaha team, the Spaniard instantly felt better. He went on to qualify a close fifth on the soft rubber while exuding confidence with his race pace and traction on the hard tyre.

"Honestly in FP3, I don't know why, but we could not ride. It was very difficult. I could not turn in the corners so I was very slow for cornerspeed," Vinales said. "For FP4 we knew we needed to make a big change.

"We completely changed the bike and straightaway I felt really good. Especially with the hard tyre, I felt confident for the race pace because I had really good traction."

His poor FP3 form meant Vinales, like team-mate Valentino Rossi, was forced to take part in Qualifying 1.

That was where The Doctor's day ended, but Vinales topped the session and went on to lap 0.234s from the historic pole position by Fabio Quartararo.

"In qualifying we didn't have the best strategy, I had to use one medium and one soft tyre so you lose a little bit of feeling. But fifth place today saves a lot of things," Vinales said.

"I'm starting on the second row after being 15th with really bad feeling in FP3. So we improved quite a lot and especially I'm confident for the race pace.

"We need to keep working, trying to be more smart even than we are doing now because I think we found out [the answers too] late. I think with more laps I could be faster than what I showed in qualifying.

"So we need to keep understanding the bike because in a normal situation [without the time lost in free practice] we could be very fast today at Jerez, which is a track that for me is always really difficult.

"I think race-by-race we are understanding many things about the bike. So it's important to keep smart, keep calm and we'll see what happens.

"Honestly today I was very angry because in Austin I felt really good on the bike, then you arrive here and you cannot ride. But I’m happy with FP4, finally I could find a good rhythm that was important."

Reluctant to reveal exactly what they had changed on the M1 to put him back into contention, Vinales replied: "Everything! We changed the bike behaviour. I felt much better straight away with used tyres. So it's very important to remind ourselves that sometimes, maybe, we have to look a little bit more than our competitors [for the right set-up]."

But the big question mark is whether the Saturday set-up will prove as effective in the hotter and greasier track conditions expected for the race.

The factory Yamaha team has struggled with exactly those conditions for the past two seasons at Jerez and, despite the new asphalt, suffered a recurrence of the temperature sensitivity on Friday afternoon.

"I've tried to ride in a little bit different way this weekend, trying to avoid the lateral slide of when there is no grip," said Vinales of the lower grip expected on Sunday afternoon. "So hopefully it works..."

 

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