Racing is back! This weekend at the Red Bull Ring, Formula 1 will be restarting its engines, while CIV resumes at Mugello. For MotoGP, we still have to wait, but not too long. Just a couple of weeks and the doors of the Jerez circuit will open.
It won’t be a Grand Prix like the ones we were used to, not only for the expectation of seeing the riders on the track but also for all the safety precautions that will be taken to armour-plate the paddock against coronavirus. Swabs before departure, daily checks, limited movements, reduced staff for many teams. A weekend different from the usual and one that could reserve some surprises even off the track.
In the long pause, the managers have not been idle: renewals, surprises, rumours, the rider transfer market warmed up and, at some point, everyone decided it was time to get to the first race with all the pieces positioned on the chessboard. Nothing could have been more wrong, there are still some heavy artillery pieces lurking in the background.
The most valuable, from the communication point of view, is Valentino Rossi. In recent months, the Doctor has gone from "it wouldn’t be good to retire in a season like this" to "quitting without a public might be easier". Keep everyone guessing, in short.
In the last few days, rumours have been circulating about the announcement of his renewal in Jerez. Of course in the Petronas team and with Morbidelli as a teammate.
Valentino, in recent weeks, has taken refuge in a press silence. Useful to definitively clarify his ideas about his future or to prepare the long-awaited announcement.
So at Jerez everyone will be all-ears when he puts himself in front of the microphones of a virtual conference. In other words, the most media-friendly rider in the world might give the news that everyone is expecting without the press.
While Formula 1 has decided to open the paddock to a limited number of journalists (confined to the press room, however) and even the CIV said OK for the press (by the way, this weekend GPOne will be at Mugello to tell you about the first race of the year), MotoGP has been adamant. Only television networks (because of their rights allowance) will be able to enter the paddock, while all the others will remain outside, or rather at home.
The team's communication departments will also be cut down. In the smaller classes, where the number of people is smaller, many teams will be forced to do without their press officers, but MotoGP will also see this sector cut. Yamaha, for example, usually has 3 communication specialists in the circuit, in Jerez there will only be one and it will probably remain that way for some time.
Let's go back to the Doctor, who might make his announcement ... behind closed doors. The news of the year (do not be angry and do not accuse us of bias, but from a media point of view Valentino remains the undisputed number 1) …but deserted by the press.
In some ways, it would be simpler for Valentino: a few minutes in front of a camera to get rid of his headache. For TV it would be a godsend: with an (almost) exclusive on the Doctor's words. For Dorna it would be a goal with empty goalposts: being able to count on undoubtedly important media coverage on the occasion of the first GP of the year (for MotoGP).
All happy therefore, the maximum result with minimum effort. It matters little if the bitter taste remains in the mouth, it’s a major coup and on live TV as well.
Of course everyone is frantically rushing around denying everything, but in these cases, we prefer to commit a sin rather than think in a logical way. Valentino has done many things in his career but announcing that he will continue in complete solitude was missing from his list.