MotoGP

Rossi to Yamaha – “We need results, I don’t have a lot of time…”

Was Yamaha's decision to roll out the 2020 Yamaha M1 an 'audition' to keep Valentino Rossi in the team?

VALENTINO ROSSI has urged Yamaha to start producing the results that would convince him to stay with the manufacturer amidst talk the recent test of the 2020 Yamaha M1 was to prove to the nine-time World Champion improvements had been made to the package.

Out of contract at the end of the 2020 season, Rossi has nonetheless made it clear that his future remains in his own hands, with talk that he may be unwilling to even continue into next season if he is only as competitive as he is riding the 2019 machine.

Though it has been a winner in the hands of Maverick Vinales this year and scored three pole positions with Fabio Quartararo on the privateer Petronas SRT machine, the Yamaha M1 is generally regarded as the weaker of the ‘big three’ (Honda and Ducati) machines, while the concession-free Suzuki’s GSX-RR has also proven to be fast in Alex Rins’ hands.

A year on from Yamaha’s public apology for the disappointing performance of its bike, the lack of top speed and acceleration remains an issue, though Vinales has proven more of a consistent threat in recent races.

However, in Rossi’s hands the results have been lacklustre with just two podiums thus far in 2019, while his last win came at Assen in 2017 and the last of his seven premier class titles is now a decade ago.

What did Rossi says about the 2020 Yamaha?

As such, last week’s debut of the 2020 prototype was seen by many as Yamaha ‘auditioning’ to keep Rossi in the team – whether the alternative is switching teams or retiring – and while the Italian was positive about its potential, he wasn’t gushing either, telling reporters ‘the first touch with the new prototype of the bike, it doesn’t change a lot but for me it is good to start work…’

Quizzed further on Friday during his media session, Rossi opened up on the difficulties facing Yamaha over the last two seasons.

 “It's not just 2018 but already 2017 that we don’t work well, we are not strong enough and we don’t work in the right areas I think, so the gap to the opponents became bigger,” he told reporters in Austria, including sister publication Crash.net.

"And it looks like this year things have changed, also people and also the organisation inside, it's like Yamaha put more effort. So about feeling and words, I'm optimistic, because it looks like something moved.

"But now we need time and unfortunately maybe I don’t have a lot of time, so I try always to push for a short [timeframe] and we need results, so we need to improve.

"But it's positive because already we tried the first prototype of the 2020 bike and I think that we start to work in a good way."

What has Yamaha said?

Rossi was responding to comments by Yamaha MotoGP Group Leader Takahiro Sumi, who accepted changes need to be made and that it is doing its utmost to accommodate Rossi’s requests.

"After the disastrous season of last year, especially we struggled at this track and faced a critical moment here. But it was our turning point to change, not just the bike, but ourselves and how to develop the bike.

"We understand we [are facing] a challenge and are still in a crisis moment. Now we fight with all the Yamaha resources to develop a more competitive bike for next year and we explained this carefully to the riders and they understand our stance for the future."

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