Maverick Vinales says he wasn’t “ready to make incredible lap times” in Catalan Grand Prix qualifying because it was “impossible to be fast” on his Yamaha MotoGP bike.
Vinales was second-quickest in Saturday morning’s FP3 session and was in the hunt for pole during his first run in qualifying at Catalunya.
But he struggled with a lack of traction on his second run and could only manage fifth on the grid with a 1m39.371s behind the fast-starting Pramac Ducati of Jack Miller.
Vinales says the poor balance of his bike in the time attack meant he was unable to be quick in qualifying, but is confident in his race pace after a strong FP4.
“For sure Miller will arrive first in the first corner,” he said when asked by Autosport if he was worried about starting next to a Ducati.
“We have to be on his tail and follow him. So, this is our plan for tomorrow.
“Sure, I’m not 100% happy because I had so much [rear] spin in the second run. I was not able to exit the corners with traction, so I lose a lot.
“Anyway, I think we were not ready to make incredible lap times because the bike balance is not really good on time attack.
“This morning was OK, but the traction was much higher. This afternoon I tried two or three times and it was impossible to be fast. Luckily, it’s just Saturday, and on rhythm we are fast. This is important, especially the consistency on the tyre is amazing.
“We need to modify the bike because I didn’t have an incredible feeling, but we feel positive and we will try to keep that in mind tomorrow even if the race is not positive because then arrive races where I love to be and we need to keep that motivation.”
Emilia Romagna GP race winner Vinales spent practice trying to follow other riders to see if he could improve overtaking with the Yamaha, but conceded he still “cannot pass” with the down-on-power M1.
“We’ll see tomorrow how I will pass, I will close the eyes I’m sure in many corners,” he added.
“We need to pass and I need to be fast on the tail of the other Yamahas, and then I will try to keep very fast rhythm because I felt good on the first few laps on the tyre and good in the last few laps.
“Even if the result today was not amazing, I feel good on the bike and this is the most important thing. And without the best feelings, I could ride fast in FP4.
“I was on the tail of Mir and I was good – not how I like, but I think tomorrow I think we can improve. We need to improve a little bit the front feeling and the rear grip.
“If we do it tomorrow, we can have a good chance in the race because I finish strong.”