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Images from the 2019 event in Losail, Qatar

Showing all the cards - Maverick Viñales 2019 Personal Blog Part One: Nerves

May 062019

“The butterflies are always there. Even from my first race in the world championship and up until the last few in MotoGP. It is something I like, and it makes me emotional and excited: that feeling and motivation to go for the victory. When I feel pressure then this is when I work the best. I would not say it is stronger at Qatar for the first GP…it is the same everywhere. When you have a good qualifying then I am more relaxed because I know my goal is easier to reach and I am ready.

The time on the grid is so slow! It is the longest twenty minutes of my life and it always feels that way. I’m always asking the guys around me ‘what’s the time?!’

This all helps you to be the best person and athlete you can be and to deal with situations of pressure.

I think the race where I was the most nervous was my first Grand Prix at Qatar in 2011. I had the feeling that everything was so big and there was a lot of emotion. I remember riding out of the pitlane for FP1 in Moto3 and I felt so fast around that track but then after three-four laps one rider overtook me around the outside…and then another one! I didn't understand how that was happening because I was riding at my best. After FP1 I sat down with my father and I said “I don't know if I can make it here…I don't even know if I can do top ten…” It was so difficult and I was so far away but step-by-step I worked hard and understood what I needed to do with the bike. I made a lot of improvements in just three races.


Of course I was nervous as a kid when I was at the races but in another way I was also calmer, colder. After maturing and growing up I am more conscious of what is going on around me and the process I need to make. In the past I could be like a stone: I didn't care about anything apart from racing and winning.


What else? I’d be lying if I said I didn't get nervous about speaking in public and at big presentations. It is very difficult to speak well and to know if people hear you well. Another time I remember getting really stressed one time at home because I decided to go for a run with my dog and after a while I turned around and it had gone. I was looking and searching everywhere and was in tears. I’d never felt more stressed but was relieved when I went back home and found her there by the door.



I’m actually working on how to handle stress before the races and it is a hot subject for me at the moment because I seem to be having many bad starts. It is like a ‘routine’ now and I want to change it. So I try to prepare myself in a different way and that has included some meditation and visualisation before the start. I think this is another way I have improved: with mental training. It is a strange thing and not really something I have tried before but in this sport you always need to find a way to improve from today to tomorrow, from one session to the next. I always have to try to be better.


Of course you are aware of the fans and the public at races. It’s impressive that so many people can come to see you race. It is something quite unbelievable if you really think about it…but it makes you want to give them the best show. I like a good atmosphere and that’s why somewhere like Jerez – where you can feel the fans close to the track – is really nice. Also the stadium section at Catalunya: you feel like making an extra fast corner there just to show off.”