Maverick Vinales
News Report 9 March 2019

2019 MotoGP Qatar - Losail Circuit

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Losail Circuit
5380 m
03 / 10 / 2019
14:00 Local time

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP to Start Qatar GP from Pole


Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales will start the first race of the season in the best way possible: from pole position. Despite the windy and relatively cold conditions at the Losail International Circuit, Valentino Rossi put in a solid performance, but he wasn‘t able to secure a place in Q2. He will start the VisitQatar Grand Prix from P14.

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales will start the first race of the season in the best way possible: from pole position. Despite the windy and relatively cold conditions at the Losail International Circuit, Valentino Rossi put in a solid performance, but he wasn‘t able to secure a place in Q2. He will start the VisitQatar Grand Prix from P14.

Viñales waited at the start of the Q2 session, to be ensured of some clear space on track for his hot laps. The strategy worked out perfectly for him. He positioned his YZR-M1 firmly in the lead after his first try, with a 0.741s advantage over his closest rival. He showed it wasn‘t a lucky shot when he posted another, slightly higher, 1‘53s, though his benchmark time remained unthreatened in the first half of the session.

He timed his ultra-quick pit stop to perfection to re-enter the track on his own again with five-and-a-half minutes left on the clock. The pace was heating up, with multiple rivals flashing red sectors, but the Spaniard responded. He found another 0.298s, posting a 1‘53.546s. This stunning lap earned him the first pole position of 2019, with a 0.198s gap to the rider in second place.

Rossi wasn‘t able to improve on his FP1 time during the FP3 session, due to the windy and relatively colder conditions at the Losail International Circuit, which meant he had to take part in Q1. The veteran was quick to head out for the 15-minute shoot-out but had to sit up on his first hot lap due to traffic on track. Once he found a clear space, he resumed his mission and moved up from 11th to 7th place.

With more than six minutes to go, the Italian headed into pit lane to get a fresh set of tyres for his second run. He briefly secured fifth place before being pushed back to sixth. He had one more try, and he made it count. He improved his time by 0.290s to a 1'54.537s, to take fourth place, 0.267s from the fastest time of the Q1 session. He will start tomorrow‘s race from 14th position on the grid.

Maverick Viñales, 1st - 1'53.546

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team

"I was surprised. I didn't expect that everyone was going to be so fast. We've made good steps forward with the bike, but we need to keep working, because we still need to improve the exit of the last corner. If we can do that, we are going to be ready to fight for this race. I will push my hardest tomorrow, no fear, I will go for it. I'm able to hit good lap times and I'm fast straight away. I will give my all. The team prepared a really good bike for me, so now it's in my hands to push and be at the front. I think it will be a group of five to six riders that will battle at the front in the first laps. Let's see at the end of the race. I will plan tonight what I can do, but my first plan is just to do my best."

Valentino Rossi, 14th - 1'54.537

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team

"It's difficult, because we are in trouble. I'm not fast because I don't have a good feeling with the front, and also we have a lot of tyre degradation. For the race this will be hard, so we need to find a way to be stronger."

Massimo Meregalli

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

"First of all, I want to congratulate Maverick. Taking pole in today's qualifying, which was quite tricky due to the track conditions, is a great result. He fully deserves this pole after the hard work he has done all weekend. It's not only his P1 start that gives us confidence - his pace is very strong, so we look forward to him being a front-runner tomorrow. We have to understand what isn‘t working perfectly for Valentino and isn‘t giving him the opportunity and the right feeling for him to go faster. We will have to use the time of the warm-up to the fullest, even if the conditions will be quite different than they'll be during the race. We are still confident that we'll sort it out before the lights turn off."

Sensational qualifying for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT riders in Qatar

abio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli carried their positive form through into qualifying practice for the Qatar GP, securing second and third row starts respectively for tomorrow night’s opening race of the MotoGP season. It was a special Saturday night at Losail for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT, because on hand to witness the outstanding performances was none other than five-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who keenly followed every movement and technical instruction from inside the team box.

Both PETRONAS Yamaha SRT riders went into FP3 determined to protect the provisional Q2 positions they earned on Friday, and they achieved their goal in style before completing further work on their race settings during FP4.

Before MotoGP qualifying got underway, the team were visited by Lewis Hamilton, who was delighted to meet the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team riders. The three PETRONAS motorsport stars were able to exchange their views and thoughts on racing, as well as swapping helmets. The British driver then spent the rest of the evening as a keen spectator within the team garage, urging on Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo on track.

The decisive Q2 session saw the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT pair secure standout results, with Quartararo qualifying fifth fastest for his MotoGP debut thanks to a best time of 1’53.946 - set on his sixth of seven laps. As a result Fabio now holds the best rookie result in qualifying since 2008. Morbidelli, meanwhile, will start from the third row in eighth place after setting a 1’54.236 on his last lap of the session, giving him a strong chance tomorrow night.

The next appointment for the MotoGP riders will be the Warm-Up at 3.40pm local time, with the first race of the season due to start at 8.00pm, when an historic dream will finally come true for the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team.

Fabio Quartararo, 5th - 1'53.946

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

"I felt really good in Q2, I was clearly on the limit on my second run. I am really happy to have lapped inside 1'54 and I hope I can be in the fight tomorrow. Our race pace is very good and the fast lap too, so I am very satisfied with the job we have done so far. The race is going to be fast, because the riders at the front have a very strong pace and they are really quick, but I will try to stick with them and above all finish the race, which is very important.

I am really happy to have met a person who has been my idol in Formula One for years, and especially to be able to swap helmets with him. I would love to make it to an F1 Grand Prix, I am a big fan of the series and I try not to miss a single race. Lewis Hamilton is a great driver, I am sure I would love it on a motorcycle too. I wish him the best of luck for his season."

Franco Morbidelli, 8th - 1'54.236

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team

"Q2 was a good session for me, it was important for tomorrow to get on the front three rows of the grid. We have to decide which tyre compound is the best for the race, but luckily in terms of the setting of the bike I feel comfortable, so we’ll see tomorrow. My objective for the race is to stay with the front guys for as long as possible and then we’ll see what happens from there.

It was an amazing experience to spend some time in the box with such an incredible Formula 1 World Champion as Lewis Hamilton. It was wonderful to see how humble he is and what a great person he is. I would love to visit him now at a Formula 1 race."