Mixed conditions in Q1 dampened Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi‘s qualifying hopes yesterday. The pair ended the session in fifth and eighth place. Normally this would put them in 15th and 18th position on tomorrow‘s starting grid. However, as Viñales will be starting the European GP from pit lane, Rossi will move up to 17th place.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales had to adapt quickly to the fast changing track conditions in Q1. He set the 5th fastest time of the session. Valentino Rossi thoroughly enjoyed being back aboard his YZR-M1 today in Valencia but was unable to put his mark on the Q1 session, taking 18th place overall in qualifying. He will be starting tomorrow‘s race from 17th, as Viñales will be starting from pit lane.
Viñales took a little time to start his Q1 outing following a small crash at the end of FP4. His first lap moved him into fifth place, but the fight was still on. With bright sunshine on one side of the circuit and rain on the other, he had to adapt his riding from a dry line in some places to a full wet track in others.
The drying track conditions meant his rear soft wet tyre degraded rapidly. He made a quick pit stop and with a bit more than 3 minutes remaining was back on his way. He improved to a 1‘41.310s on his seventh and last lap, to finish the session in fifth place, 0.539s from first. Normally this would have put him in 15th place on tomorrow‘s starting grid. However, Viñales will be starting from pit lane as a part of the FIM‘s sanction for using a sixth engine, beyond his allocation.
Rossi ventured out quickly for the 15-minute contest on a still wet Ricardo Tormo track. His first attempt immediately put him in P1, with a provisional 1.131s lead. But the battle for the top two positions was just getting started. The number-46 rider improved his time but not his placement and found himself in third.
The Italian weighed his options and decided to stay out on his first set of wet tyres, cooling them on the wetter parts of the circuit. He pushed to the maximum and squeezed out a 1‘42.039s on lap 6/9, which ultimately put him in 18th place in the overall qualifying results, 1.268s from the top. Due to his team-mate starting tomorrow‘s race from pit lane, he will move up to 17th place on the starting grid.
Maverick Vinales: “We know I have to start from pit lane tomorrow. The forecast for a dry race worries me a little, because the grip level is very low. In FP2, which was the driest session we‘ve had so far this weekend, I didn’t feel very comfortable. But I don‘t want to overthink this race too much. I just want to race and be calm about it. If I feel good on track in the dry tomorrow, I will be pushing as hard as I can, and then we‘ll see.”
Valentino Rossi: “I felt good on the bike today, without any problems. Fortunately, while I was in quarantine I felt always good, only two days were bad, and after it was okay. But anyway, it was difficult because I had to stay home alone for 24 days and it was boring. I had a lot of check-ups, and every time I tested positive. And now, after three weeks, I’m back, and I’m very happy about this. Not riding these last few weeks was not a big problem, but missing FP1 and FP2 is not easy, and also the conditions this afternoon were difficult. This morning I was not so bad, but in the afternoon I suffered more.”