The first part of the shock rumours regarding the MotoGP future of Maverick Vinales has been officially confirmed.

A Yamaha statement has announced that, at the request of Vinales, the Spaniard will not serve the second year of his current contract and instead leave the team he joined in 2017 at the end of the season.

"This partnership has been very significant to me over the last five years, and it proved a difficult decision to part ways," Vinales said in an official Yamaha statement.

"In these seasons together, we experienced both great achievements and tough times. However, the underlying feeling is of mutual respect and appreciation. I am fully committed and will strive to achieve the best results for the rest of the season."

"It is with sadness that we will say farewell to Maverick at the end of the year," added Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis. "We are in the middle of our fifth season together and over the years we have achieved many highs but also had to manage many lows.

"After the German GP, which was the most difficult weekend of our partnership, we had important discussions in Assen and came to the conclusion that it would be in the interest of both parties to go our separate ways in the future.

"Yamaha will put in their maximum effort – as we always have done – to give full support to Maverick and finish this season in the very best way possible."

The separation clears the way for Vinales - who struggled to smile despite returning to the podium with second behind title leading team-mate Fabio Quartararo at Assen - to potentially join Aprilia for 2022.

That was the sensational news which first began to leak on Saturday evening at Assen.

Neither Yamaha nor Aprilia offered a clear denial. Vinales branded the reports as "not true" in the post-race press conference, but then gave a long list of reasons to explain why he might well want to leave.

Relations between Vinales and Yamaha had hit rock-bottom after a last place finish for the nine-time MotoGP race winner at Sachsenring in Germany the previous weekend.

"In Sachsenring I wanted to go home on Friday already because it was a disaster weekend. I explained everything, but we were not able to improve," Vinales said on Sunday.

"I’ve never been in [last] position in my life, not even when I started racing. The result was very painful. It was disrespectful for myself as a rider. It’s difficult to forget, honestly. It makes me think a lot."

Vinales' worst ever MotoGP result was the nadir of a series of frustrating performances since winning the Qatar season-opener.

Yet just five days after the Sachsenring disaster, Vinales was on top of the practice timesheets at Assen, going on to take pole position and a podium.

The lack of a clear technical explanation for such dramatic changes in form looks to have dissolved trust between rider and team.

"When I come to a race it starts to be a nightmare. For three years now I have given the same comments. They take notes and it's exactly the same comment three years in a row," Vinales said after Sunday's podium.

"I know Assen is a track where I can be fast, so I just don’t touch the bike. I was scared to even touch one click. For sure, maybe we were able to make the bike faster [if we changed the settings] but I didn’t want to take that risk [that it would all go wrong]."

"The human side [of the team] is not bad, I’m more disappointed about the technical side. 2018 was also difficult. 2019 somehow we found a way, but then in 2020 again we changed everything, we changed the bike and we started to lose the way again.

"As I said before, Germany was very painful. Honestly, it was hard to eat that result. Very hard.

"But I have to say that I appreciate a lot the guys in Yamaha. I have a lot of respect for Yamaha because they invest a lot of time in me. For sure we make some good results, but I don't know why I was not able to be more fast and more consistent."

In what sounded very much like an unofficial farewell, Vinales added: "Overall, the only words I can say to Yamaha is thank you for the opportunities."

The only factory MotoGP team seat still officially available for 2022 is now with Aprilia, where Vinales would re-join his friend and former Suzuki team-mate Aleix Espargaro.

Normally open to any kind of questioning, Espargaro refused to comment on the Vinales-Aprilia speculation. It was a rare move by the #41 which only seemed to reinforce that Aprilia is indeed on the verge of what seemed an impossible signing until a few days ago.

"I hope that next year my team-mate will be a very strong rider, because we deserve it, because we are working very hard and we are not far from the top brands in the world," Espargaro later commented, when asked if the Vinales rumours at least proved how much progress Aprilia has made in MotoGP.

Although the Italian factory's RS-GP is a much-improved package this year, it remains the least successful bike on the grid with a best result of sixth place while the other five manufacturers have all won races in the past year.

Apart from Aprilia, Vinales' only other potential option would seem to be the remaining VR46 Ducati seat alongside Luca Marini.

Ducati made a big push to sign Vinales at the end of 2019, before he opted to renew with Yamaha for 2021 and 2022, while title sponsor Aramco - having made clear they want Rossi to ride - might accept another star name. But a place for Vinales at the Noale factory is currently the clear favourite.

Vinales - who joined MotoGP with Suzuki in 2015 and has won nine races - follows Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) and Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM) in seeking an early contract termination in recent seasons.

Meanwhile, a top Factory seat is now available alongside Quartararo for 2022, as well as the potential Petronas Yamaha ride currently held by Valentino Rossi.

Potential Yamaha candidates include Moto2 stars Raul Fernandez and Marco Bezzecchi, plus Yamaha WorldSBK riders Topak Razgatlioglu and Garrett Gerloff, the American making his MotoGP debut in place of the injured Franco Morbidelli this weekend.

Morbidelli has a Petronas contract for next season, but would be the most obvious choice to re-join former team-mate Quartararo.

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