Vinales was given a ride-through for jumping the start at the Circuit of the Americas, but he first served a Long Lap penalty, dropping out of the top 10, before also going through the pitlane.
It was the second time a rider mistakenly served a Long Lap penalty since the punishment was introduced in Qatar, where Romano Fenati did the same in the Moto3 race.
Vinales cited Safety Commission talks about changing the penalty from a ride-through, prompted by the controversy surrounding Cal Crutchlow's similar penalty in Argentina, as the reason for his misunderstanding, but he insisted that it was all his fault.
"We thought, but it is nothing officially. It was just that I misunderstand, it was all my fault," he said.
"We were so close to make a good start and on the start I just put full gas, first two or three seconds okay and then in the last moment start to move.
"I did not release the clutch, nothing. The good point at least, I overtook some riders in the start. That was the positive.
"I misunderstand a little bit the penalty, I get many seconds, then was a good comeback."
Maverick Vinales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Gold and Goose / LAT Images