After the announcement of Fabio Quartararo joining Maverick Vinales in the official team for the 2021/22 two-year period, the consequence is that for Valentino Rossi this will be his 15th and last year in Yamaha’s factory outfit. At Iwata they are hedging their bets on young riders, but they were quick to emphasize that they had first discussed the situation with the Doctor.
The problem is that Valentino cannot decide whether he will race in 2021 or not. First, he has to understand if and how competitive he can be, but he will need time to do that.
Rossi has therefore left the field free for Yamaha who in exchange have promised him an official M1 bike for 2021 and a direct contract with the company, should he wish to continue.
"For reasons dictated by the rider market, Yamaha asked me at the beginning of the year to make a decision regarding my future,” explained Rossi. “Consistent with what I said during the last season, I confirmed that I didn't want to rush any decision and needed more time. Yamaha has acted accordingly and concluded the ongoing negotiations.”
The Doctor needs to find answers for himself before he can give them to others.
“It is clear that after the last technical changes and with the arrival of my new crew chief, my first goal is to be competitive this year and to continue my career as a MotoGP rider also in 2021,” he underlined. “Before doing so, I need to have some answers that only the track and the first few races can give me. I’m happy that, should I decide to continue, Yamaha is ready to support me in all respects, giving me a factory-spec bike and a factory contract. In the first tests I will do my best to do a good job together with my team and be ready for the start of the season."
Managing director Lin Jarvis confirmed Valentino's words and demonstrated all Yamaha's support for a man who is a symbol of the company.
“The totally understandable decision of Valentino to assess his competitiveness in 2020 before making any decision about 2021 was something that Yamaha respects and also wholeheartedly agrees to,” were the words of Jarvis. “While we have total respect for and confidence in Valentino’s abilities and speed for the 2020 championship - at the same time Yamaha also have to plan for the future. These days, with six motorcycle manufacturers in the MotoGP class, fast young talents are greatly in demand, and consequently the riders’ market begins ever earlier.”
“So, it’s a weird sensation to start a season knowing that Vale will not be in the Factory Team in 2021, but Yamaha will still be there for Valentino, whatever he may decide for the future," he underlined. "If he feels confident and continues to race, we will provide a Factory-spec YZR-M1 bike and full engineering support. If he decides to retire, we will continue and expand our collaborations off track with the young riders’ training programmes of the Riders Academy and the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp, and with him as a Yamaha brand ambassador. Anyway, that is all speculation – right now we have a full season ahead of us and I can assure the fans that Valentino will have our 100% support every day until he eventually one day decides to hang up his leathers!”