© Bruce Allen
As teammates, the relationship between Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi cannot end well.
Back in college, we econ majors spent most of our time constructing simplistic models and graphs. Within the current composition of the Movistar Yamaha team, we are watching an accelerated version of what some of us feared might be in store for Rossi. His line, over time, having been very high for years, beginning to acquire a slightly negative slope after a strong upswing following the Ducati debacle. Vinales’ line has a short, sharply positive slope. That he will soon eclipse Rossi on a consistent basis is clear; the two lines may have already crossed.
Since last November, Rossi’s relationship with the rookie has been threatened by the Spaniard’s sheer precociousness, the same occasionally-breathtaking response we got in 2013 when Marquez and his Repsol Honda exploded onto the scene. A fulcrum point in modern MotoGP history. An obvious upsetting of the existing Order of Things. The whole mentor/apprentice shtick advertised by Yamaha suits at the approach of winter testing lasted until, well, the very first test.
We are now at the stage where the two are competitors, likely well on their way to becoming rivals, given Rossi’s territoriality in the Yamaha garage. Bit of a replay of Lorenzo’s arrival in 2008 and the advent of the legendary wall in the garage which turned out, after all, to have been at Bridgestone’s request, something having to do with data cross-pollination.
As Lorenzo improved and titled, he and Rossi and learned to despise one another. Rossi, the marketing machine, prevailed at age 37 or whatever.
This time around, it appears inevitable that Rossi will complete the circle, morphing from mentor to competitor to bitch. Vale is only going to get older. Vinales is only going to get better.
This relationship cannot end well.