Maverick Vinales will have equal status with Valentino Rossi in the Yamaha MotoGP team this season when it comes to technical developments, says the Spaniard’s crew chief.
Vinales made his first public appearance as a factory Yamaha rider earlier in the month in the launch of the 2017 YZR-M1 bike at Madrid, appearing alongside new teammate Rossi.
The former Suzuki rider also has a new crew chief for the 2017 season in the form of Ramon Forcada, who has engineered Jorge Lorenzo since 2008.
Forcada stressed that Yamaha has always treated its riders equally since his arrival at the team, and believes the same will apply for Vinales and Rossi despite the Italian’s vast experience.
He highlighted that Rossi and Lorenzo were running two very different bikes by the end of the 2016 season as evidence that Vinales will be free to pursue his own development direction.
"What's clear is that Vinales will have the same deal as Rossi, and the same as either of Yamaha's two rider has ever had,” Forcada told Motorsport.com.
“Since I arrived [in 2008] there has never been a second rider; the comments of both riders have carried equal weight for the engineers.
“The proof is we have ended up running different things [for each rider]. Last year we finished the season with Jorge running a different chassis, a different swing-arm, a different exhaust and a different front suspension to Valentino.
“It doesn’t mean we make different bikes – just that each rider chooses what he prefers. If Valentino and Maverick each like a different chassis, each will use the one he likes most.
“Yamaha always gives each rider what is best for him, regardless of whether or not it matches the other bike. Yamaha has never forced a rider to use what works for someone else.”
Adaptability key to Vinales' pace
Vinales ended up fastest in last November's post-race Valencia test, and was said to have been equally fast later in the month during a private Yamaha test at Sepang, although no times were released.
Forcada feels Vinales' adaptability in the limited running he has had so far on the Yamaha explains how the 22-year-old has been so impressive.
“Since we started working, Maverick has tried many different parts and has made it clear which chassis he likes more, which swing-arm is best, which engine,” explained Forcada.
“What he adapts to most is the small details, which means we don’t waste time. For example, we raise the seat height because we think it fits the bike better, and he just adapts to that position.
“He knew the difference between the Suzuki and the Yamaha before getting on the bike. I didn’t think he could have had it so clear, but the fact is he did, just by following others on track.
“He was not 100 percent right, but he was almost right. That’s why he was so fast from the beginning.”