Has Petronas SRT Yamaha decided the MotoGP future of Valentino Rossi for him?

Reports in Malaysia suggest Petronas SRT isn't waiting for a decision from Valentino Rossi and is moving ahead with its own plans for the 2022 MotoGP season

Valentino Rossi - Petronas SRT Yamaha

While the motorcycle world waits patiently for a decision from Valentino Rossi over whether he will race on beyond the 2021 MotoGP World Championship, word from Malaysia suggests his sole remaining option will be whether to compete with his own VR46 team or retire.

This is because PSRT itself has seemingly grown weary of waiting for a final decision and is subsequently making its own plans for a future without ‘the Doctor’ on its books.

According to two Malaysian publications, owner Razlan Razali is quoted as saying ‘We refuse to wait too long for Rossi’s decision as to whether or not he wants to continue racing next season. Through discussions with the management we have unanimously agreed not to continue the contract with Rossi for the 2022 season. Therefore we will return to focus on our goal of finding the best young riders to fill the vacancy.”

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The quotes are attributed to Kosmo and Mekanika, though they are yet to be confirmed by the team itself.

The ‘will he, won’t he’ question of whether Rossi will hang up his helmet at the end of the season hasn’t ventured far from the lips of journalists through this opening half of the season, though they have been somewhat deflected by more pressing questions about his VR46 Racing team and its plans to step up to MotoGP in 2022.

Those plans look set to be finalised in the next week with the team set to run Ducati machinery for at least Luca Marini. The second spot though could well fall to Rossi, who is still deciding whether to race on or call it quits at the end of what is currently his least convincing season in the top flight.

Why doesn’t PSRT Yamaha want to retain Valentino Rossi?

With six wins from 14 races last season, Petronas SRT Yamaha was far and away the most successful team in terms of form during 2020.

However, the technical freeze has done it a significant disservice in 2021 with Rossi getting use of the current-specification Yamaha M1 but unable to get the best from it with a best result of just tenth place.

Team-mate Franco Morbidelli finished runner-up to champion Joan Mir last season but having to spend another year on the 2019-spec Yamaha is clearly now hampering the Italian and he has struggled to demonstrate the type of form that had him clinch three victories in 2020.

It means Petronas SRT has slid down the hierarchy significantly this year, a status that isn’t likely to sit too well with management, not least because it bowed to pressure from Yamaha to take Rossi on in the first place.

Indeed, while Rossi is certainly a major draw for the Malaysian-backed squad, indifferent form that stretches right back to 2018 when was last a race winner would have seen him dropped by a manufacturer if he was anyone else.

Before it signed Rossi, Razali intimated that its modus operandi in MotoGP is to bring on new talent, like it did with Fabio Quartararo to spectacular effect, something the presence of #46 doesn’t represent. The fact PSRT dug its heels in during contract negotiations to prevent Rossi from bringing his entire team along with him suggests it didn’t want him taking control of the move.

Rossi says he wants to make a decision come the summer, but depending on how much autonomy PSRT receives from Yamaha - who won’t make Rossi’s decision for him - will determine whether it moves ahead with its own plans in the interim, which would most likely see it give the nod to its Moto2 rider Xavi Vierge.

As such, if Rossi does decide to continue he would need to do so under his own team alongside Marini and on Ducati machinery.