The bikes are still in the pits, but it is common opinion that Yamaha have already won their first race, the one in the rider market. Acting in advance, the announcement of the signing of Vinales and Quartararo has caught their opponents off-guard and now at Iwata they can plan their future with confidence. It was Valentino who paid the price, removed from the official team, but above all Ducati, who had two options on which they counted a lot.
Carlo Pernat doesn’t mince his words: “Yamaha landed a couple of blows: one on Ducati and one on Valentino. The knock-out blow was for Ducati, because they had been focussing on both men, especially on Vinales. I can't understand what happened in the negotiations, everything pointed towards seeing Maverick in red."
But things went differently.
“I would really like to understand what happened - reflects the manager - Ducati were keeping a foot in both camps, which were Vinales and Quartararo, but in the end, they were left empty-handed. In these situations, you must sign immediately, as soon as possible. Now they find themselves slave to Dovizioso, but they have to start thinking that Andrea is no longer a young guy, he is 34 years old. They’ll have to put their hopes in Miller, that's for sure, because he's young and talented, or even in Bagnaia. I still think they should have signed Vinales, they made a big mistake even though I don't know who and why they did it. As a manager I would have closed the deal immediately, and as far as I know they were pretty close to doing so."
Pernat is sure that the next manufacturer to make a move will be Honda.
"I am convinced that Marc Marquez’s renewal will be announced at the Honda team presentation next week," added Pernat.
Rossi, on the other hand, did not suffer a KO like Ducati but he has been downgraded.
“In my opinion, Valentino didn't expect that, he has less power in Yamaha, but it’s normal when you are 41 years old. Marquez can keep Honda in check for his results, Valentino can’t with Yamaha,” explains Pernat. From a decision-making point of view, the relationships have changed, Yamaha did everything alone and this is the important point: they are no longer a slave to anybody. I must admit that they acted really well, they behaved like the Honda of old days: they decided and not the riders. They had to move ahead of time, and they did the right thing; if they waited too long for Vinales or Quartararo, they would have lost both of them."
The Italian manager fully endorses Iwata's philosophy.
“Yamaha behaved like a true manufacturer. Rightly, Valentino does not want to decide his future before time, but they have grown tired of this situation. Nobody would have expected them to leave Rossi in these conditions to be honest, but they flexed their muscles,” he says. “They took the two best riders available, Vinales and Quartararo, and made them sign in record time, even before the tests in Malaysia."
Now we will have to wait for Rossi's decision. Yamaha have given him an official M1 bike for 2021, albeit in the Petronas team, but Pernat has also heard of other movements. All Italian.
"I’ve heard there has been some talk between Valentino Rossi and Aprilia,” he reveals. “The intention of Noale would be to bind itself to VR46, to create an all-round collaboration for the future. This is only speculation, but if the new MotoGP bike is competitive, what about Valentino in Aprilia in 2021? He would end his career where he started it. These are just rumours and not facts, but I heard them through the grapevine."
For Aprilia it would be a massive opportunity…
“Everything depends on Valentino's results. If this year he always finishes 7th or 8th, things would become difficult for him, so perhaps in that case he could think of moving to Aprilia to help improve the bike,” he concluded.