Maverick Vinales says he thought being Yamaha MotoGP teammate to Valentino Rossi would be harder than it proved to be in reality.
Vinales made the switch to Yamaha at the start of the season after two years with Suzuki, rapidly establishing himself as pre-season favourite with his performances in testing.
But after winning three of the opening five races, the Spaniard's title challenge gradually faded as Yamaha began to experiment with different chassis types to overcome the M1's rear grip problems.
He ended up a distant third in the standings, behind Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso, but still managed to outscore Rossi, whose year was interrupted by a broken leg that forced him to skip his home race at Misano.
While Rossi and previous teammate Jorge Lorenzo shared a famously frosty relationship during their time together at Yamaha, Vinales says the respect between himself and his Italian colleague remains strong despite the difficulties encountered by the team this year.
“I thought that having Rossi as a teammate would be harder, honestly," Vinales told Motorsport.com.
"All in all, we’ve managed everything quite well, we respect each other and that, in the tricky situations we’ve been through, is very important."
However, Vinales denied that Yamaha neglected his needs in order to provide a package more suited to Rossi, pointing out that he was closely matched with the 38-year-old all season - both when the bike was performing well and when it was struggling.
“When the bike worked, we both were there," added Vinales. "In races in which one of us had a good day, the other one had one too.
"I don’t blame Yamaha for anything. The team has given me its 100 percent, that hasn’t changed.“
"I would say that half [of the situation] is Honda and Ducati doing a good job, and the other half is our own shortcomings.”
Translation by Irene Aneas