Is Andrea Dovizioso now in the frame for Petronas SRT Yamaha MotoGP comeback?

Andrea Dovizioso enters the frame to see out the 2021 MotoGP season with Yamaha before taking on the Petronas SRT ride for the 2022 MotoGP season

Cal Crutchlow - Petronas SRT Yamahax

Andrea Dovizioso could make a surprise return to the MotoGP World Championship before the year is out as part of the Petronas SRT Yamaha squad, ahead of a full comeback in 2022, it is being reported.

With Yamaha’s rider line-up for the remainder of the season thrown into doubt by the sudden exit of Maverick Vinales and the satellite Petronas SRT squad seeking to fill two seats for 2022, the Japanese firm is canvassing options for next year.

In Petronas SRT’s case the matter is complicated further by the withdrawal of title-backers Petronas, which is believed to leave the team facing a financial hurdle that could see it relying more heavily on Yamaha in terms of money and influence to ensure it receives on-spec machinery.

Indeed, team manager Razlan Razali has repeatedly noted that PSRT was formed to promote young talent, but scant desirable options for 2022 have led to a re-think that will combine both his and Yamaha’s wishes.

It means Dovizioso is potentially being lined up to see out the season with Yamaha, potentially on the Factory bike before joining Petronas SRT for next season. Alternatively, Yamaha may seek dispensation to promote Franco Morbidelli to join Fabio Quartararo when he returns from injury but rules around engine use could prevent this from happening.

While Dovizioso would be a Yamaha choice, he doesn’t quite fit the profile of what Razali ultimately wants. 

However, in return it would allow him to sign Moto3 rider Darryn Binder onto the sister M1 in a deal that will bring fitness company WithU on board as the new title sponsor. Dovizioso’s involvement would likely guarantee the use of a 2022-spec Yamaha M1 next season too.

Why has Andrea Dovizioso suddenly moved into the MotoGP frame?

It has been a strange year for Dovizioso, whose dogged determination not to bow to Ducati’s tabled contract led to him walking away altogether and into a sabbatical.

Thereafter he linked up with Aprilia and conducted several tests, but his procrastination over penning a deal to race in 2022 - something the Noale brand was vocally pushing for for a long time - meant he was frozen out when the firm instead turned its sights on Maverick Vinales.

As such, Dovizioso’s career appeared to be ending on something of a whimper not befitting a rider who’d won 14 MotoGP races and was runner-up to Marc Marquez in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

However, Yamaha represents an engaging opportunity for the Italian, who is considered one of the most technically adept riders on the grid. It’s worth noting Dovizioso has competed with the manufacturer before at  Tech 3, where he was a regular podium contender on year-old machinery.

Indeed, it is surprising Dovizioso hasn’t been considered as a substitute before now but it is believed the Italian will only step in for 2021 if it comes with a deal for 2022.

And it seems he may very well get his wish...