It’s obvious that Yamaha has not managed the disagreement generated between Ramón Forcada and Maverick Viñales, or if you prefer, that Maverick Viñales has with Ramón Forcada. Perhaps it’s not an error in management, but the sense is that it simply was not “managed” until the issue turned into a crisis and gone beyond the scope of the team.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that this crisis is directly linked to lack of results. As Lin Jarvis himself said on Thursday before the start of the Czech GP regarding the tension within Yamaha for racking up races without winning, “everything is always much easier when you win. In a winning environment even the bad things are fine.” And it was exactly like that at the beginning of last season, when Yamaha newcomer Viñales won three of the first five GPs.
Everything was like in a fairy tale: Forcada was the perfect crew chief, his experience was a “blessing”, the rapport rider/team was flawless … But the honeymoon lasted exactly as long as the good results did. When these began to weaken first and to disappear completely later, the roses quickly produced thorns. Suddenly Forcada’s character seemed despotic to the rider and his experience a lack of communication. The phrase “should have followed my instincts instead of the recommendations of others” was heard more than once from the mouth of Viñales as a criticism towards Forcada methods and decisions.
Everything was Zen when he won: Forcada was the perfect chief mechanic, his experience was a “blessing” … But the honeymoon lasted exactly as long as the good results lasted. When they began to weaken the roses began to reveal thorns.
And as the frustration grew, the distance between the rider and his technical manager was accentuated amplified. With his experience and his professional curriculum as an argument, Forcada maintained his methodology of work, and the rider who has a somewhat closed nature, began to build a wall between them. Each one placing bricks until they could no longer see the other. The point of no return finally won.
A rider’s technical manager has to have two characteristics: professional competence and empathy towards the rider he works with. In Forcada’s case, there is no question about the first requirement, he has his curriculum; but instead the erosion of empathy for Maverick condemned their relationship. From there, there was no other way to find a solution because it isn’t the first time something like this happens nor won’t be the last. The problem in this case is that a “normal” situation has been handled poorly. I would say that it could not have been handled worse.
A rider’s technical manager should have two things: professional competence and empathy for his rider. In Forcada’s case, there is no question about the first requirement, he has his curriculum; but the erosion of the relationship with Maverick condemned their relationship … The time had come to go their separate ways.
Instead of giving the rider autonomy to “go out to the paddock and find a person you like/have confidence in,” Yamaha should have presented Viñales with a list of possible substitutes to Forcada, a list of alternatives from within the Yamaha world. I don’t know if they did that or not, but in any case Yamaha should have underlined the substitute for Forcada on that list. The reason why is simple.
When changes are made in a situation of conflict, they are to improve the situation… Is this fulfilled if the changes to Maverick Viñales’ team include a new technician who doesn’t know the motorcycle or how Yamaha works?
The chief Maverick Viñales chose, Esteban Garcia (with whom he had already made an agreement at the last GP in Holland) is the technician with whom Viñales won his Moto3 title and is now in charge of managing Bradley Smith’s bikes in KTM. Garcia complies with the empathy requirement, while that of his technical capacity has to be put between question marks. Let’s say he has yet to prove it.
On the other hand, what leaves no room for doubt is that Garcia’s knowledge of the new bike is nil – same for Yamaha’s work methodology. Hence the opinion that the replacement for Forcada should have come from a list presented by Yamaha. Especially considering the circumstances in which he is arriving in that garage. Esteban Garcia must start from zero to manage a situation that has come to “save the furniture”.
I think we all agree/understand that when changes are made in a situation of conflict, they are done in order to improve the situation. So, knowing what we know so far, does it transmit the impression that the changes in Maverick Viñales’ box is going to accomplish this?