There is no signature on the contract yet, but it will arrive soon. Maybe even during the weekend. Valentino Rossi has not yet picked up the pen to sign the agreement, but the meeting he had with the top management of the Petronas team in Misano was decisive. The situation is clear, but when a character like the Doctor is involved, there are a lot of details to be solved.
"That's right, we tried to sign last week because the situation is now clear, I will race with Petronas next year - he confirmed - But we're not in a hurry and we still have some things to sort out, I think we'll do everything over the weekend".
Will it be your last year in MotoGP?
“Sooner or later it will be my turn to stop too, but my mother also told me that it's impossible for me to do it (laughs)”.
So let's put it this way: will it be a one-year contract or will there be an option for 2022?
“We talked about both possibilities, then we decided to make an annual contract. But there are chances that it will continue, if we are all happy, it will depend on my results in the first part of next season. I will decide in the summer. If I go strong, if I manage to get on the podium and fight for the top 5 in the championship, then I can continue. But I'll wait to see what happens, in MotoGP things change from day to day and that's okay at my age. "
So it's not a real 1 + 1 contract?
"There is no real option, which usually has more precise terms. On the contract it is only written that if we are all happy then we can continue. To tell the truth, at first, I was a little angry with Yamaha, because it seemed they wanted to offer me a one-year contract. I explained to them that 2021 would definitely not be my last season and they understood ”.
In Petronas you will be joined by crew chief David Munoz, telemetry technician Matteo Flamigni and coach Idalio Gavira. Who will not be able to come with you?
“I am very sorry for Alex and Brent (Briggs and Stephens, his mechanics, Ed.), they wanted to follow me and I tried but it wasn't possible. They both told me they wanted to stay with me for as long as I raced and that they would retire with me. It will be sad not to have them in the garage next year and then do the last race together. Now when I enter the garage, I feel like I'm entering home, we have been working together for 20 years and they are members of the family”.
If these details have also been decided, why delay the signing any longer?
“First of all because I think that sometimes in MotoGP you sign too early, you start thinking about the next season before the one you are racing in. We agree with Yamaha and Petronas, we have been talking about it since Jerez, but for this very reason there is no rush. It's an important contract, there are some details to sort out, but that's okay ”.
OK, let's talk about the present: Barcelona.
“It's one of my favourite tracks, I always enjoy riding here. In recent years I have been competitive, I have fought for the podium and I hope to do it again this weekend. There is a long straight where we will have to suffer, but also a lot of fast corners where the Yamaha does well. We will also have to pay attention to the weather, it will be different from usual ”.
We are in the third of 9 races in 11 weeks, how difficult is it to race with so many GPs close together?
“I found that I don't really like double races. Psychologically, going back to racing on the same track is a bit boring, it doesn't have the same appeal as changing circuits. The triple Grands Prix are physically difficult too, testing in between the two races at Misano was extreme from this point of view, not a great idea. We will have to grit our teeth, it's a strange year but there was no other option if we wanted to race. I hope it will soon return to normal ”.