Vinales trailed Quartararo in the opening stages of Sunday’s season opener at Losail, but carved through from sixth at the end of the opening lap to pass four Ducatis and Quartararo to score victory.
Quartararo faded from the podium battle to fifth by the chequered flag having encountered a drop in rear tyre grip he hadn’t experienced at all with the 2021 Yamaha.
The Frenchman noted his push in the end to get back ahead of Ducati’s Jack Miller and the Suzuki of Alex Rins to salvage fifth came from his “experience” of difficult days during his 2020 season.
“Actually, I was feeling so strong from the beginning and as soon as I overtook Jack I could catch Johann [Zarco] so fast,” he explained.
“But I could feel a big drop on the rear tyre that I didn’t expect because in the test, in the practices I didn’t have a drop in the rear tyre.
“And today it was a total disaster. When Maverick overtook me he was just in another league and he had much more grip than us.
“At the end I could overtake Rins and Miller because I was riding in a different way in the end.
“It’s experience from last year that actually P5 in a day that is not great for us, it’s what we need to do. In a tough day, making this kind of result will help at the end of the year.”
Quartararo is at a loss to explain his tyre drop as he doesn’t feel he was riding hard and is “really curious” to check Vinales’ data to see why he didn’t have the same issues.
“Honestly, my riding – even when I was overtaking Jack – my riding was smooth,” he added.
“I was not burning the tyre like hell to overtake. I was feeling great, doing great corner speed and just the tyre had a big drop. So, this is what I don’t understand.
“Also, when I saw Maverick, when he overtook me, I was struggling but I saw he was pushing quite a lot with the tyre.
“I say ‘OK, maybe he will have a drop a little bit later’.
“But every time we had more and more drop, and luckily I had great front feeling and I could manage to make lap time in a different way.
“I feel it’s more physical [the bike] because I never had that shaking like today. I had lack of grip, the bike was so aggressive and a lot of shaking.
“So, [it’s] strange and I’m wondering to see how Maverick makes the first laps, if he was more smooth than us.
“But I felt like I was riding so smooth in the beginning. I talk with Valentino [Rossi] and he had the same drop as me. So, it’s quite a strange situation, I’m really curious.”