MotoGP

Jorge Lorenzo hints he’s prepared to be Valentino Rossi’s team-mate

Jorge Lorenzo hints he'd be prepared to pair up with Valentino Rossi at Petronas SRT Yamaha in 2021 but says he is content with his test rider role for now

Jorge Lorenzo says he would only ever return to MotoGP racing full-time if it was with Yamaha, hinting he’d be prepared to do so if it meant partnering Valentino Rossi once again.

The three-time MotoGP World Champion retired from racing at the end of the 2019 season after a disastrous year on the Repsol Honda beset by injuries and an inability to adapt to his RC213V package.

However, within two months Lorenzo was back in the MotoGP paddock after signing with Yamaha as its test rider, a role that will see him get at least one race outing this year at the Catalunya MotoGP (whenever that may be).

The active return has prompted speculation this could all be part of a bigger plan to return to racing in 2021 and though Lorenzo insists he is ‘98%’ certain he will remain retired, he admits he could be prepared to change his mind.

“I made a decision in November and this 98% choice is definitive, even though anything can happen in life and people can change their opinion continuously,” he told Sky. “Anything can happen but right now my choice is this.”

Hypothetically, if Lorenzo had the opportunity to return it’d be with the Petronas SRT satellite effort, which in turn could place him directly alongside Rossi, with whom he endured a famously fractious relationship with in the Yamaha Factory team.

Rossi is currently pondering his future having been dropped by the Yamaha Factory team for 2021 in favour of Fabio Quartararo, with his options to join Petronas SRT or retire from the sport. With this in mind, Lorenzo hints he’d be prepared to race alongside his foe one more time if he returned.

“Today my decision is made, but if there really must be that one and remote possibility [partnering Rossi] I would say it is natural he can return only with Yamaha, so this must be taken into consideration. Valentino will have doors open if he wants to continue.”

How likely is a Lorenzo – Rossi pairing at Petronas SRT?

Slim but not out of the question

There are few factors to take into account here, first and foremost whether Rossi will want to continue in 2021. The current coronavirus-enforced hiatus means this season’s championship could end up being very different with double-headers or a latter-year heavy schedule, which could just as easily make it the right time to hang up his helmet, or continue for another year to finish his career off properly.

If Rossi does continue, then Petronas SRT may not want to have two elder statesmen on their books. The team currently has Franco Morbidelli on its books and while he was comprehensively out-performed by Quartararo last year, the Italian was still very competitive and is well placed to make another step forward this year. Moreover, both he and Rossi would work much better together.

However, it's worth noting that Morbidelli - having been usurped by Quartararo in Yamaha's pecking order - may see 2021 as an opportunity to consider his own future if he wants to progress to a proper factory team any time soon.

SRT boss Razlan Razali has already admitted the idea of having Rossi and Lorenzo – riders with 10 premier class titles between them – is ‘interesting’ but it’s probably at odds with what it is trying to achieve in the sport.

For Lorenzo's part, he maintains now he doesn't want to return to action but then he said he was seeing his Honda contract through to 2020 right up until his retirement call, so those in the industry have come to not take the Spaniard's word as final!

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