Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis was happy to tell media during the MotoGP team’s launch that the friendly, open relationship between Valentino Rossi and new teammate Maverick Vinales was “like a breath of fresh air.”
Vinales replaced Jorge Lorenzo, who spent the first nine seasons of his premier-class career at Yamaha before leaving for Ducati after the 2016 season. Lorenzo and Rossi were teammates for seven seasons, from 2008-10 and 2013-16, a span interrupted only by Rossi’s disastrous Ducati stint in 2011-12.
Lorenzo entered MotoGP saying nothing but respectful, kind words for the legendary Doctor. But their relationship quickly deteriorated once Lorenzo showed equal or faster speed than Rossi.
Communication between Rossi and Lorenzo ranged from frigidly cordial to open warfare during their shared Yamaha tenure. The relationship was so bitter in 2009 that Yamaha was forced to erect a wall between the two riders’ stalls within its garage.
Rossi and Vinales have been friendly during Vinales’ first two seasons in the premier class. And Vinales always has claimed Rossi is his hero.
Vinales reportedly sought Rossi’s advice on a number of topics during the Sepang test last week, Jarvis said, and the Yamaha boss indicated Rossi was more than happy to share his knowledge even though he was slower than Vinales at the test.
So everyone is singing “Kumbaya” at Yamaha.
Let’s see how long that lasts if Vinales beats Rossi consistently during the first few races of the season.