The World Championship went on vacation, but the same can’t be said for the managers, who are committed to putting into place the last pieces for 2022. During a July without races, some agreements were made, others were prepared, while some didn’t go through. The unofficial news (we’re all only awaiting confirmation for) is Franco Morbidelli’s arrival in the official Yamaha team alongside Quartararo, after Vinales’ farewell, and Raul Fernandez’s decision to transfer to the MotoGP with the Tech3 colors. Not at all sensational, but neither predictable.
So, KTM has put all its pieces into place, Yamaha has set things straight for at least one team, but there are still many doubts for Petronas. Let’s assess the situation. At the moment, there are four free bikes for next year: the two M1s of the aforementioned Malaysian team, one Ducati of the VR46 (Marini is a certainty, like Salucci confirmed) and an Aprilia. Because of a twist of fate, there seem to be more bikes than riders ready to occupy them, at least for now.
A lot (but not everything) also revolves around Valentino Rossi’s decision regarding his future. If he decides to continue, he’ll likely choose to do so with his team, alongside his brother. One last season with the family, with that Ducati, which he had broken up badly with. At this point, the VR46 team would be busy, and Petronas might bet on Marco Bezzecchi, for whom Razali has publicly declared his interest.
Of course, this solution also presents some unknowns, because the Doctor’s team for 2022 will only have an official Desmosedici, and they’ll have to figure out if they’ll give it to Marini or if Valentino will be riding it instead. Be that as it may, in this case, Petronas would only have one bike left.
If, on the other hand, Rossi throws in the towel at the end of the year, problems will increase for the Malaysian team. In this case, in fact, Bezzecchi would be riding the Ducati branded VR46 and, in Petronas, they’ll just have to use their imagination. They don’t seem to be interested in experienced riders in Kulua Lumpur, and they clearly told Dovizioso and Rea so, but there aren’t many young riders available. They tried contacting Raul Fernandez, but failed. If we look at the Moto2 ranking, the best are already taken.
So there remains Lowes, who has already had a chance in the MotoGP, or Schrotter, not exactly a very young rider like Sam, but without his results (3 podiums in 10 years in the Moto2 aren’t exactly a great result). They might as well stay home and focus on Xavi Vierge who already races with Petronas in the intermediate class, and maybe try with Augusto Fernandez, a young promising rider who's growing. After all, they’re spoilt for choice, considering that Roberts doesn’t seem ready to change yet, and Canet has already signed to race with Pons (even if the recent past teaches us that contracts are now valid up to a certain point).
For Aprilia, on the other hand, the objective is only one: to get Vinales. A team with Maverick alongside Aleix Espargarò, and with Dovizioso as test rider assisted by Savadori, would be a dream, seeing how the market is doing. There are negotiations between Italy and Spain and rumors that, unless he wants to stop, Vinales doesn’t many alternatives. Time will tell, even in the heat of August.
In the game of musical chairs (sorry, saddles), two riders remain standing who, coincidentally, were teammates last year. For Petrucci, his days in the MotoGP seem to be winding down, with KTM that has already decided to prefer Fernandez over him. So Danilo could start thinking of the SBK, for the last part of his career in the place where he started it: the derivatives.
There doesn’t seem to be much room for Dovizioso either. Andrea would have liked to get back into racing, but on his own terms. The Aprilia option (as a rider) never fully convinced him, and he had some hope in Yamaha, after the Vinales affair. But there's a big difference between words and deeds, so Dovi could decide to remain a full-time tester for Noale (a role he fits in perfectly and from which Aprilia benefits greatly).
This is the situation before leaving for Austria, but we're used to seeing it change rapidly.