Why a chassis issue could spark the start of an inter-Yamaha rivalry

MotoGP team Movistar Yamaha has seemingly hit an unexpected rough patch by the midpoint of the season, but what’s the cause behind the chaos?

While it’s a given that any team’s fortunes could violently change overnight in MotoGP, it is still no less surprising when one of the sport’s top performing teams is hamstrung and left out to pasture by the rest of the grid. Once pace-setter and back-to-back Grand Prix winner, Maverick Vinales, has taken a significant blow to his championship lead as he experiences woe upon woe on his factory Yamaha bike.

The sudden drop in performance was highly unlikely for the young Vinales, whose trademark quality has been one of sheer adaptability and force of will. Which begs the question: just what is happening over in the Yamaha garage? One can infer the cause of the situation to be highly dependent on electronic issues that Maverick had mentioned in the past, alongside the knowledge that the former championship leader’s ability to deliver a powerful performance didn’t evaporate overnight.

The rider gave voice to his beliefs over a potential electronics issue, attributing changes made to the system as the primary cause for lack of power:

“Somehow in the [past few] races that we’ve struggled, we modified the electronics and we lost a lot of the power,” explained Vinales.

Every race, less power, less power, and now it looks like we need more power from the electronics.

Some races we get really confused, and we need to keep the same line from the beginning, the same electronics. But we’ve changed it a lot during all the races.

I think [on Sunday] also we weren’t also 100 percent with the electronics, as in the wet. So, we have to work to get this confidence we had at the beginning of the season.” – Maverick Vinales

Although he believes that the electronics are the biggest current culprit, there may be more to what’s hampering his ability to deliver consistently: a sudden chassis change. It’s no secret that his teammate, Valentino Rossi, has been smitten with the new chassis, but Vinales would certainly prefer the one he had at the start:

“[Regarding the new chassis] We are a team and we need to try to go in the same direction.

At the moment I feel good, but I repeat: I felt better with the bike I had at the beginning of the season.” – Maverick Vinales

Vinales has shown from the outset that he will do all he can to be the best team player that he can be, but how far will his willingness go to adopt changes that suit his teammate better when his chance at being World Champion is on the line? It’s certainly tough to tell, as the young Spaniard has been doing all he can to keep control over his emotions, but given the deadline that he’s harshly up against, the beginning of an inter-Yamaha rivalry may be afoot.

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