Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales showed his spirit in Q1 when he set the best time of the session on his very first flying lap. He improved his time further in Q2 to ultimately take 11th place on the grid. Teammate Valentino Rossi was unable to put his mark on the 15-minute Q1 shoot-out and will start tomorrow’s race from the sixth row on the grid.
Viñales was the last rider to head out on track in the first qualifying session, eager to find some clear space, and he used it to the fullest. He clocked a 1’47.823s on his opening flying lap, the first time he dropped under the 1’48s mark this weekend, to take over at the top of the rankings.
Unable to improve on his next try, he went into the pits for a quick stop with more than six minutes of the session remaining. When he got back he was still 0.186s clear of his closest rival. He was pushing without bettering his time but remained in P1 regardless, ending the session with a 0.123s advantage over the rider in second place.
The local hero showed a similar strategy at the start of Q2. He again left it late to exit pit lane but immediately put his head down. He moved up to third place with a 1’47.810s but was pushed back to tenth when all riders completed their second hot lap.
With eight minutes to go, the Spaniard returned to the pits. He had two more attempts, but he didn’t improve his time and ended the session in 11th place, 0.929s from pole.
Rossi also took part in Q1 and put up a fight. His first lap briefly earned him second position, but he was soon pushed down to fourth. He had to abort his second hot lap and returned to the pits holding fifth place.
With four minutes on the clock, the Italian resumed his time attack. He was looking for a good space out on track to put in a fast time, but he couldn’t find the feeling he was looking for. His fastest lap of 1’48.627s, which he set on his first flying lap, was 0.804s off his teammate’s time. It put him in 8th position in the Q1 results and in 18th place on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
After today’s qualifying, Viñales was penalised three grid positions by Race Direction for obstructing Bradley Smith whilst the Brit was on a hot lap in Q1. As a result, the Spaniard will be starting the race from 14th place. As Franco Morbidelli was also penalised, Rossi will move up one place on tomorrow’s starting grid to 17th postion.
Position: 11th – Time: 1’47.810 – Laps: 6
“Today’s qualifying results don’t fully show our potential, I feel I could have done a little bit better, because I had some problems with the electronics in Q2. We need to keep working, we still have some time. We need to try to keep the motivation high and let’s see if we can do a bit better tomorrow. Rules are rules, and I think I was on the line in Bradley’s hot lap, so this is the way it is.”
Position: 18th – Time: 1’48.627 – Laps: 7
“It was a difficult day already from this morning. Sometimes when you have a problem and you try to do better, you make it worse. Unfortunately I also crashed in FP3, but especially the afternoon was difficult. We didn’t have enough pace, I was quite slow. After that, in Q1, we had some confusion and lost too much time. It was difficult to set a hot lap but also to be on the pace. It looks like everything we can do inside the box won’t change our situation much, more or less our problem stays the same. Tomorrow we’ll try something else and we’ll see.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Team Director
“It was another tough day. We faced more or less the same problems as yesterday, apart from during FP4 when Maverick found an improvement, somewhat in terms of speed but mainly the pace. We are going to prepare something for both riders, keeping that as our direction to try to get some additional rear grip without disturbing the other areas. We will be putting it to the test in tomorrow’s Warm Up. When things don’t go well, issues start to build up. Maverick had a sensor failure in Q2, so he couldn’t fully exploit the last couple of laps, and now he’s also been penalised three grid positions, so he’s basically pushed back one row. Valentino had a crash this morning, which compromised his day, and he got into an even more difficult position when he ran out of time in the Q1 session before putting in a hot lap.”