Valentino Rossi drops clearest hint yet on MotoGP career decision

Valentino Rossi says he 'hopes' to continue racing in 2021 for one more year because he'd struggle to make a retirement call if racing doesn't resume

Valentino Rossi - Yamaha MotoGP 1200

Valentino Rossi has confirmed he hopes to continue racing into the 2021 MotoGP World Championship because he will need to make a decision on his future before competition can reasonably resume this year.

The Italian stands to be replaced by Fabio Quartararo in the Yamaha Factory team from 2021, leaving him with the option to continue competing with the Petronas SRT outfit on full-factory machinery or bring an end to his glittering career.

Having intended to use the first few rounds of the season to help him decide, Rossi’s plans have been sent awry by the indefinite pause on racing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

As such, Rossi admits he will need to make a decision on his immediate future before racing is likely to resume – understood to be around August or September – and thus feels it is ‘fairer’ to do another year in 2021 before most likely hanging up his helmet.

"I am in a difficult situation because, like I said, my first option is to try to continue," Rossi told the official MotoGP website. "I have enough motivation and I want to continue. It’s very important to understand the level of competition because especially in the second part of last year we suffered very much and too many times I was too slow and I had to fight outside of the top five. 

“In my mind, I had another year with the factory team and I needed time to decide and for me, I need like five or six races, with the new chief mechanic, and some modifications in the team to understand if I can be strong.

"The problem is that there’s no racing. So with the virus, we cannot race. So I will have to decide before racing because in the most optimistic situation we can race in the second half of the season, so August or September we hope. But I have to make my decision before. But anyway I want to continue but I’ve had to make this decision without any races.

"It’s not the best way to stop because the situation is that maybe we don’t race in 2020. So it’s fairer for me to do another championship and stop at the end of the next, so I hope to continue in 2021."

Valentino Rossi set to retire at end of 2021?

The pause on racing has been a problem for Rossi's decision making. There won't be time for him to make a proper decision on his competitiveness and if he decided to retire now he faces the prospect of never getting a proper send-off if MotoGP doesn't restart. As such, one more year seems to be the compromise.

Not only is this the clearest indication that Rossi will race on in 2021, it is perhaps the firmest declaration that he will only be doing one more year before calling time on his career.

Rossi’s comments come after Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis told Speedweek there won’t be an opportunity for Rossi to make a decision after a handful of races because by then it would be too late in the year to create a technical set up within Petronas SRT.

Indeed, Petronas SRT boss Razlan Razali admits he is hesitant to welcome Rossi into the team because he wants to nurture young talent, but a single-year deal could be the compromise.

A pre-determined ‘farewell tour’ for Rossi in 2021 will also no doubt help drum up publicity and ticket sales when – hopefully – MotoGP is back up and running properly next year.