To be perfectly honest, it is the first time that during a presentation of a MotoGP team we have had to listen in such depth about a rider who will no longer be part of the team. Today, during the unveiling of the M1 Factory 2021, the spectre of Valentino Rossi literally stole the show from Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo, who represent Yamaha's future.
Even the perfectly capable Federica Masolin, the SKY TV journalist whose job it was to present the team, continued to ask the Yamaha men more questions about Yamaha’s glorious ‘ex’, the man who brought four titles to Iwata during his long career on the M1. From a certain point of view, it was really nice, and it represents how important Rossi's figure has been and how much still will be for Yamaha. But … if we look at things in a slightly different way - that of the two current and future riders - the perspective changes considerably.
When rider and manufacturer separate in the world of motorsport, it is right that there is a great send-off, like the one that took place at the end of 2020 between Rossi and Yamaha. Theirs was a combination that certainly exceeded the track limits, almost becoming part of collective imagination and attracting fans who fell in love with a story that has been rather bereft of satisfaction in recent years. Nevertheless it was love, and neither side has ever denied it.
Except that now this splendid love story is over - we’re talking about Rossi's adventure on a factory team Yamaha here - maybe it would have been a better idea and certainly fairer, to dedicate all the attention only to Maverick Vinales and Fabio Quartararo, because all things considered today was their day and not that of the former team rider. His shadow is clearly very long, and the glory accumulated over the years is infinite. But this subservience should really have come to an end today; that would have been the best prize for Vinales and Quartararo, and the right way to recognize total trust in these two young talents who have been called upon to help forget a big legacy, especially from the point of view of communication.
Bringing up the subject of Valentino Rossi today, in such an insistent way, on the day his two heirs took the stage, somehow also appeared to us to be a lack of tact towards them, undermining – right from their very first moments together – the unconditional trust which the two riders chosen by Yamaha should instead enjoy. History will never be erased and what Rossi did on the Yamaha will remain etched in the hearts of fans all over the world and also in the hearts of the protagonists themselves. But today was the right day to show a determination to move on and turn over a new leaf and to be sincere it just didn't seem like that today. If they had done so it would not have meant disavowing this wonderful story, but it would certainly have made a major contribution in starting to write another one. In our opinion the first words of this story just did not seem to come from the heart…