Vinales says the watchword for 2018 is to take time to make the right choices in testing. Picture: Yamaha Racing

Madrid, Spain - MotoGP star Maverick Vinales has extended his contract with Yamaha for two more seasons until the end of 2020.

Vinales, 23, finished third overall in 2017 - his first season with Yamaha after switching from Suzuki - with three wins and seven podium placings. Italian team mate Valentino Rossi, whose contract runs out at the end of 2018, was fifth.The announcement is the first of the year, ahead of the first track action for 2018, beginning on Sunday at with official testing Sepang.

"I'm really happy that Yamaha and I have extended our contract by two more years," Vinales said at the team's 2018 presentation in Madrid on Wednesday. "It's great for me and the team that we were able to make this announcement this early on, because it gives us a sense of calm. We know that I will continue riding my M1 for the coming three seasons, so now we can just focus on the actual racing."

“The winter has been really good, training as always and trying to take it to a higher level," he smiled. Asked about pressure, the 2013 Moto3 champion said: "Pressure is always positive. When you have pressure, you push yourself more.

"But the objective is the same as last year, trying to be ready from the first race, on the podium in every race and then at the end of the year fight for the title. That’s the goal, and for sure we’ll learn from the mistakes of last year and try to be the best.”

“We’re trying different things, trying to improve," he added, "and with the experience from last year we’ve improved some of my weak points. I think I’ve done good winter training, so let’s see on the bike. Last year we chose everything fast, and maybe we didn’t choose the best. So this year we want to do a lot of laps and choose the best for the year. And it’ll be very important to improve in the rain.”

The MotoGP season will start in Qatar on 18 March.