Red Bull KTM rider Miguel Oliviera has revealed that he was approached by the Monster Energy Yamaha team about potentially replacing the departing Maverick Vinales for next season – but says that he rejected the offer in favour of honouring the contract he already has in place with his current employer.
Vinales’ shock decision to leave Yamaha was officially confirmed earlier this week, with an imminent announcement expected on his move to Aprilia for next year.
With the move creating a hole in the factory team’s line-up for next season, it’s so far been assumed that satellite rider Franco Morbidelli would get promoted to replace Vinales.
Oliveira’s comments hint that Yamaha was nonetheless looking elsewhere – but with the Portuguese rider contracted to KTM until the end of 2022 and, unlike in Vinales’ case, with both parties happy with the current arrangement and KTM unlikely to give its blessing to breaking the deal early, he says he’s not going anywhere.
“The market and contracts,” he told Portuguese website Motorcycle Sports at a media event this week, “especially in these modern days, come to demonstrate that – and we already have one or two cases there, where there is no desire on the part of one of the parties where the rider does not continue with the team or the team no longer wants the rider – that these contracts are broken. Nowadays, having a signed contract is worth what it’s worth.
“I have my commitment to my team since last year for two years and I will not go back on that word.
“Naturally, this situation with Vinales brought some nervousness to the talks for the future, and I was also approached in that sense, but as I said my focus is on my team.
“It’s a great team and I believe I can be world champion with them and I have a contract and even win it. While I’m here there is a lot of work to do.”
Morbidelli remains the obvious choice to replace Vinales alongside his former team-mate and Petronas Yamaha graduate Fabio Quartararo, after an impressive 2020 season that saw the Italian finish runner-up in the championship behind Joan Mir despite being on year-old satellite machinery.
However, with MotoGP now entering the five-week summer break, Yamaha is under no pressure to rush the next step in the process.