Ducati MotoGP general manager Gigi Dall'Igna has suggested that Maverick Vinales could be an option for the Italian marque for the 2021 season.
Along with almost every rider on the premier-class grid, Vinales is a free agent for 2021 after the expiration of his current factory Yamaha deal.
With Marc Marquez already in early talks to remain at Honda beyond the end of 2020, and star rookie Fabio Quartararo thought likely to remain in the Yamaha orbit, six-time MotoGP race winner Vinales could be among the hottest properties on the rider market.
One potential destination for Vinales could be Ducati, which currently fields Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci in its factory team, and relations between Dovizioso and Dall'Igna are thought to have become strained amid Ducati's continued difficulties this season.
Speaking to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, Dall'Igna admitted Vinales could be an attractive option for 2021 if it decides to reshuffle its rider line-up.
"He is one of the riders who has managed to beat Marquez," said Dall'Igna of Vinales. "We are evaluating what could be the best solution. But it does not depend only on us."
Speaking after the Thailand Grand Prix earlier this month, Vinales suggested he is open to the idea of a change of scenery in 2021 after his existing Yamaha deal ends.
“I do not know," he said when asked if his future lies at Yamaha. "That is hard to know.
"In the end I am here, I am adapting to the motorcycle, it is totally against my style and I am against my nature, but the bike works well, that is clear. I do a lot of podiums, maybe we don't start the races in the best way, but we are scoring a lot of points."
However, at Motegi two weeks later, Vinales rowed back on those statements, saying he is committed to trying to win with Yamaha in 2020.
“What I wanted to say, above all, is that I am very focused on trying to get the most out of this Yamaha," he said. "In 2020 we will see, it is far away.
"You never know, maybe I start like in 2017 [when he won three of the first five races] and it changes the whole mentality, I have no idea.
"The important thing is to finish this year as well as possible and start next year with the belief of going to win."
Earlier this season, during his four-race injury layoff, Jorge Lorenzo sounded out Ducati about a potential return to the Italian manufacturer's fold as early as 2020 before ultimately electing to stay committed to Honda.
However, Dall'Igna made it clear that he no longer sees Lorenzo as an option for the future, saying only: "No, enough."
Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
Dovizioso concerned by Ducati performance at peak grip
Crutchlow expected more from Nakagami in 2019
Ducati hints at Vinales interest for 2021
- Formula 1