Maverick Vinales says Fabio Quartararo calling Andrea Dovizioso more of a MotoGP title rival than the factory Yamaha rider is “perfect” as it takes the pressure off him.
Vinales trails Quartararo by 19 points in the standings following a 10th-place finish in last week’s Austrian Grand Prix, while the Petronas SRT rider crossed the line in eighth.
Dovizioso’s win last weekend elevated him to second in the championship, 11 points adrift of Quartararo, which led the Frenchman to peg the Ducati rider as more of a rival given his experience of being in the championship fight.
Vinales took no issue with this comment, and admits he is still not thinking about the title while his struggles on the M1 since the Brno race continue.
“I think it’s good that they think like that because [it] takes a lot of pressure out of me, so for me it’s perfect,” Vinales said when Quartararo’s comments from last Sunday were put to him ahead of the Styrian GP.
“I mean, for sure we haven’t shown our potential yet because we haven’t had a good race.
“We had a few of podiums, but then a lot of mistakes during the races. So, I think we need to get rhythm, I think we need to get to good tracks for us, especially Misano, Aragon – really good tracks for me, for my riding style.
“But we’ll see. Now I don’t even think about the championship, only about improving the bike because there are a few things to improve and then we will see where we are.
“But for me, I’m taking it [race-by-race], trying to improve the bike in the race and this is the most important thing.”
Vinales struggled in the early laps of the restarted Austrian GP with a slipping clutch, which forced him into a recover ride from the back of the grid.
But he also battled the inconsistencies with the Yamaha over race distance which has plagued him over the last few years, and admitted this made racing “difficult to enjoy”.
Vinales sees a second race at the Red Bull Ring as a “big opportunity” to get on top of the issues he suffered in the race.
“Well I think overall we made a really good weekend, because Saturday morning I was out of Q2 and then we were able to improve a lot our lap times and be fast and consistent,” he said in response to a question from Autosport.
“And then we make the pole position, so now we need to find out what we need to improve for the race.
“Sure, this weekend is a very good opportunity to do it and we’re going to try to do it.”