Morbidelli ready to leave Yamaha without factory-spec M1 deal for 2022 MotoGP

Franco Morbidelli wants to a future in MotoGP with Yamaha but says he will leave if he isn't upgraded to a factory spec machine for 2022

Franco Morbidelli - Petronas SRT Yamaha


Franco Morbidelli says he will be on a factory-specification bike in the 2022 MotoGP World Championship season, even if he has to depart Yamaha in order to attain this.

In what has been a reversal of fortunes for Morbidelli over the last two seasons, the highly-rated Italian made his Yamaha debut aboard a current-spec Petronas SRT Yamaha M1 in 2019, but was comfortably out-performed by rookie team-mate Fabio Quartararo.

With the line-up shuffled to give Quartararo more factory attention in 2020, Morbidelli was held back on dated machinery but nonetheless found his groove during the second-half of the year to secure three victories and the runners-up spot in the overall standings behind Joan Mir.

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With a freeze in the tech regulations forcing Morbidelli to spend another season on 2019-base M1, it has become the key point of discussion in his contract negotiations. However, while he has received assurances from Yamaha, much will hinge on whether his Yamaha and Petronas SRT agree a new satellite deal.

“I like Yamaha and I would like to continue my relationship with them,” he told GPOne.com. “If I have an updated bike, my love for Yamaha will be even greater. There is nothing clear at the moment because we have to wait a little longer. 

“Even Petronas and Yamaha don\’t have an agreement and this is a nice question mark for me to remove before I understand the situation.”

Morbidelli - 'Other manufacturers have an interest in me'

It has been quite the career-defining 12 months for Morbidelli.

While his 2019 campaign on the Petronas SRT Yamaha certainly wasn’t bad in isolation, his mantle as the man positioned to replace his mentor Valentino Rossi in the factory set-up disappeared almost overnight as Fabio Quartararo stole the limelight.

However, steadily Morbidelli emerged from his team-mate’s shadow in 2020, showing greater tenacity in his race craft and more aggression over a single lap to end the year as the best-placed of Yamaha’s four riders. It won’t see him replace Rossi, but should he compare favourably with Maverick Vinales this season, there is an obvious opportunity there.

Should he stay with PSRT (or other), the question over whether Yamaha supplies Morbidelli with the same spec as the factory riders doesn’t come from a question of ability but rather resource. 

With Yamaha and Petronas stalling on a deal amid growing talk of the Malaysian-financed team switching to a (as-yet-unconfirmed) Suzuki project, the Iwata firm will also need to factor in the potential burden of either adding VR46 Racing to its roster, or using it to replace PSRT.

Riding a Valentino Rossi-backed bike certainly wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Morbidelli but he says his heart is set first and foremost on riding a 2022-specification machine next year, wherever that may be.

“I haven’t spoken to other manufacturers or teams. However, I am aware that other manufacturers have an interest in me, but I have not spoken to anyone personally. I have made it clear that in 2022 I will have a factory bike. If it is not with Yamaha or with Petronas, in any case my goal is to have a factory bike.“

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