Fabio Quartararo insists he isn’t ‘replacing’ Valentino Rossi

Fabio Quartararo intimates that Valentino Rossi will still be very much a Factory rider if he chooses to continue racing in MotoGP

Fabio Quartararo - Petronas SRT Yamaha

Fabio Quartararo says he isn’t looking far beyond the upcoming 2020 MotoGP World Championship despite being in the privileged position of having his future beyond this season already sealed.

The Frenchman was last week revealed as the replacement for Valentino Rossi in the Yamaha Factory team, causing a ripple that could well result in the Italian hanging up his helmet at the end of the season.

Yamaha moved early to secure Quartararo on a Factory deal having established himself as a target for rivals should the Iwata marque not be able to commit him to a works deal from 2021.

With Rossi stalling on a decision about his future until midway through the 2020 season, Yamaha signed Quartararo alongside Maverick Vinales in the first major rider market announcement of the young season.

With such a huge void to fill in replacing Rossi, Quartararo – who enters into his second MotoGP season with Petronas SRT this year – says he doesn’t look at it in those terms, pointing out that if he does continue he would definitely be regarded as a Yamaha Factory rider too, albeit in Petronas SRT colours.

“I think I am not replacing him yet, I think I have a good job to take this badge in the factory Yamaha team.

“He is not retired yet so I will not take his place. I think being in MotoGP factory team, but I am not taking his place.”

 “I am really happy about signing the contract with Yamaha, I am so happy to announce it last week, now the future is clear for me which is really good and I can fully focus on three years with Yamaha.”

“I know already the bike from last year so it will be good to follow up the next three years so again thanks to all the people who made it possible.”

What’s in a livery…?

Yamaha has been at pains to point out that if Rossi opts to continue racing in MotoGP he will be privy to the same Factory specifications as those that will be enjoyed by Maverick Vinales and Franco Morbidelli.

In theory the bikes will be the same but compete in a different livery and under a new banner. Rossi would almost certainly be keen to retain the same crew chief and engineers, though he admits this isn’t certain.

“It depends on Quartararo,” he said. “If he takes someone from his team [to the factory team]. We still didn’t speak about this. The important thing is Yamaha is happy if we continue together and will give me a factory bike and the maximum support."

However, while there are a number of riders – Jack Miller, Cal Crutchlow and even Quartararo this year – that will be making use of the ‘same’ machinery under a satellite umbrella, the reality of the situation is often somewhat different.

Factory teams roll out numerous updates and parts over the course of the year but often don’t have the capacity to construct them quick enough to ensure everyone gets to use them first time. As such, while ‘factory satellite’ teams often start the year identical as their counterparts, they tend to drift in different directions as the year goes on.

As such, Rossi would either find himself third in the queue for new parts or potential disgruntle the Factory riders if he gets more priority than them.

Moreover, Rossi – who hasn’t been terribly pleased with the direction of development on the M1 in the last couple of years – will have even less input on its evolution if Yamaha’s future lies with Quartararo and Vinales.