Maverick Vinales Feeling the Pressure of 2023
Maverick Vinales had the time of his life in the 2022 MotoGP season as he won three podiums. Notably, this was his first full year with Aprilia. Seems like the partnership has been a fruitful one!
However, now with the oncoming 2023 season, the nine–time MotoGP winner said that he will have "more pressure" going into the next season.
Vinales' time at Aprilia was rather a play of fortune. The veteran racer didn't have an amicable ending with Yamaha in 2021 when he suddenly decided to change teams mid-season. Fortunately for him, he found refuge at the Aprilia camp on short notice.
Rocky Start to MotoGP 2022
Vinales didn't have an easy time going into Aprilia though. As he said, back then, he had never ridden a premier-class bike built around a V4 engine. Thus, he took some time to acclimatize to the RS-GP machine built by Aprilia. According to him, the machine handled and rode completely differently from his usual riding style at Suzuki and Yamaha.
Thus, 2022 started in quite a lacklustre way for him. The racer was nowhere close to fellow Aprilia rider, Aleix Espargaro, who won at the Argentina Grand Prix and had four other podium finishes within that time. However, the Spanish racer was quick to make a comeback with back-to-back podium finishes in Holland and Britain. A third podium came in at the Misano GP in September.
Vinales ended the season 11th in the overall standings, closing with 122 points on the table. According to him, the year was positive for him. However, he now feels that the 2023 season will bring in greater expectations on his part.
Vinales Happy With Overall Performance
Autosport magazine asked for his opinion on his performance and he stated, "I feel quite positive, honestly. During the season we achieved quite good results, and I think we met each other – the team and bike – quite well. So, each are on a good point and I think that's the most important thing."
Vinales also stated that he struggled quite a bit at the beginning of the season. He admitted that this was primarily because he didn't know the bike too well and the Argentina GP came too soon.
He admitted to a learning curve and this season was more of a prequel than anything, "I think it was important this season to stay focused, to learn a lot."
Vinales doesn't beat around the bush and openly stated that the team will face more pressure in the next season. "I think every year is different. Next year is going to be different. Of course, we will have much more pressure than this year, this is natural but it's also good.
"We must improve, we must make the objective clear and then I think we can do a really good job. We need to work well, smart.
"The test will be very important because there are just a few days, so it will be important to test smart, test well and in a good way."
No Clear Goals for 2022 But 2023 Different
The Spanish maestro admits that there were no clear mental goals for him in 2022. He had no expectations when it came to the results, his only priority was to get used to the Aprilia bike as fast as possible.
"I didn't make any clear expectations," he added. "I just tried to ride the bike in a good way. My objective was to learn the bike quickly and then from the middle of the season we were on a really good level."
Thus, having ended a sensational first season, Vinales is now completely focused on giving his best for 2023. With his bike now within his control, he plans to bring the same mindset and physical fitness to 2023 as he did during this season.