Randy Mamola: Rossi and Vinales, the friendship with an expiry date

In his latest Motorsport.com column, former 500cc star Randy Mamola explains why he thinks the bond that has formed between Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales isn't to last.

Randy Mamola: Rossi and Vinales, the friendship with an expiry date
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing, Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Polesitter Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing, second place qualifying for Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki MotoGP, third place qualifying for Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Polesitter Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing, second place qualifying for Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki MotoGP, third place qualifying for Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team

On Saturday afternoon at Mugello, I ran into a lot of photographers who were trying to find a single image from the decisive qualifying session with Valentino Rossi alone in it.

But, in every photo there was another rider: Maverick Vinales. Always the same, either ahead or behind.

Mugello wasn't the first time that the pair had helped each other to try to get the best possible position on the grid. It happened in Argentina and also at Le Mans.

But the fact that Rossi got pole in Italy - in front of his adoring home fans - put the strategy firmly in the spotlight.

But let's take it one step at a time. On the one hand, it's normal for people to find it strange to see two riders from different teams and different nationalities helping each other in such an obvious way.

If we also take into account that, in six months' time, they will be teammates at Yamaha, where Rossi is the cornerstone, it's normal to see people who find it morally reprehensible.

Rossi trying everything

Personally, before judging this sort of situation, I would like to point something out. That someone like Valentino, who is 37 and has nothing else to prove, uses this kind of strategy, shows his ambition and his hunger, and you have to appreciate that.

Besides everything that he has already won, that is what makes him great, unique.

Even if he transmits an image of distracted genius, the #46 leaves nothing to chance, let alone now that he's racing against rivals like Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, who together with Casey Stoner are the toughest he has found during his career.

This year, Rossi was determined to improve in qualifying. At Le Mans he started seventh, and had to take a lot of risks to move up the order.

At Mugello, aware of how important the start would be, he spent Friday practicing starts to make sure nothing failed, or at least nothing that he was in total control of.

Vinales' attitude

Until this point, it's all been praise. However, if there's something that I didn't quite like, it was Vinales' attitude.

I don't think it's respectful from Maverick to say now that adapting to the Yamaha will be easy, when Suzuki took a gamble on him and has committed to designing a competitive bike.

The GSX-RR's improvement over the past year has been huge, and Davide Brivio's team will do well in searching for a replacement who is committed to the project until the end - someone who can become a leader in a similar way to Kevin Schwantz back in the day.

In any case, there are two things to keep in mind from now on. The first we'll be able to see on Saturday in Barcelona, where Valentino and Maverick will have the chance to repeat the qualifying strategy, to convince those who believe that up until now it's all been a coincidence.

And second, it will also be interesting to see what this friendly relationship turns into come November, when they are garage neighbours.

If Vinales is as good as I think he is, that friendship could have an expiration date of six months.

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