The nine-time MotoGP race winner scored his best result since joining Aprilia in last weekend’s Misano race, with Vinales coming from 19th to narrowly be beaten by team-mate Aleix Espargaro eighth.
But Vinales insists he could have cracked the top three for the first time on the RS-GP but for losing “a minimum 10 to 15 seconds” picking his way through traffic on the opening laps of the Misano race.
“Yeah, it’s pretty tough because I need to learn many things in just a few laps,” Vinales said of his continuing adaptation from the Yamaha to the Aprilia.
“Also, the first laps have been really compromised because I never tried this set-up and to go straight to the race is difficult.
“So, even I think our potential was even higher this race because I could ride much faster on the first laps and I lost so much time.
“I lost minimum 10 to 15 seconds in the first laps, going out of the track trying to overtake, that you are with others.
“So, basically our progression is step-by-step, but what I’m happy is we are doing that progression.
“It’s true that it’s at Misano where we’ve made a lot of laps, but everyone makes a lot of laps and everyone can be fast in Misano.
“Now [going to] Portimao with the changes we’ve made, I’m pretty confident.
“I’m confident that even today if we started in the first or second row, I think we were able to be inside the top three, top four.”
Maverick Vinales, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
When asked by Autosport what the new set-up he tried for the race was aimed at finding, Vinales added: “Actually balance of the bike. I’m trying to find myself on the bike.
“Sometimes I feel comfortable, sometimes not. Also, this weekend was very tricky because the conditions were all the time changing and it’s very hard to develop yourself and improve in these conditions.
“So, we changed the balance of the bike, the weight balance and it feels much, much better.
“I need to improve on the brakes, the way of braking from the two bikes I rode this year it’s very different.”